TO THE EDITOR:
On Wednesday, March 22, “Lila Manfield-Sapinsley Compassionate Care Act” (HB 5210) was considered in the state Legislature. Many will attempt to influence you and minimize any opposition to these bills by those who offer a “Slippery Slope” argument.
Supporters contend the bill safeguards against any risks for too easy access that might end in discrimination against the disabled community and other at-risk citizens. They will try to convince you that HB 5210 safeguards against such abuses because it includes waiting periods and physician requirements to prevent killing the most vulnerable.
What you may not be told is what happens when other states and countries have passed similar bills after we are made comfortable with the concept that premature death is a solution to difficult situations. Very soon, often starting in the next legislative session, year after year, incremental “adjustments” with new bills always follow.
Shortening waiting periods, widening definitions of qualifying conditions, removing protections, expanding who can prescribe death: layer by layer they fall away until there are very few, if any, protections remain.
Just a couple of examples published by patientsrightsaction.org can help show the route inevitably followed once we start down this dark road:
• In Colorado and Oregon patients in their 30s struggling with anorexia were prescribed lethal drugs in lieu of real compassionate treatment for their mental illness. The original laws were amended over time to allow this radical and definitive “treatment.”
• Doctors make mistakes frequently in estimating how long a so-called terminally ill patient will live. A major study of physician prognoses in Chicago revealed that of 468 predictions, only 20% were accurate in predicting when death would occur. In another study, “No group accurately predicted the length of patient survival more than 50% of the time.” No fault of the doctors; applying general rules to specific patients is never simple.
Many more examples can be found about what could happen once we embark on the path to help patients kill themselves.
Jack Parquette, Chairperson, Rhode Island Right to Life State Committee