FOR OVER two decades the independent people of New Hampshire have been solidly against assisted suicide. Since 1996, the New Hampshire legislature has studied or voted down this proposed law so many times it takes two hands to count them all.

Assisted suicide laws are the most egregious form of discrimination against severely disabled and “terminally ill” people. How can we call suicide a public health crisis for most people while facilitating the suicides of older, ill and disabled people? Should we not be doing everything we can to support such persons in having the best possible health care and home care so they have quality of life for however long they have?

With the experience of the laws in Oregon as a guide, the question of assisted suicide becomes, quite frankly, incompatible with New Hampshire values. Our state motto, “Live Free or Die,” means we reject government interference in our daily lives. Oregon state government’s promotion of an assisted suicide program administered by the health care system means pushing people towards assisted suicide through denials of coverage for treatment and in-home care, covering up abuses, and ignoring incorrect prognoses that lead people to think they are dying when they are not.

The numerous flaws in HB 1659, the “Death with Dignity Act,” are so obvious that New Hampshire should reject this absurd legislation again. With HB 1659, the government would be promoting suicide for what in the preamble it calls “mental anguish over the prospect of losing control and independence, and/or embarrassing indignities.” This is a direct attack on the thousands of disabled Granite Staters who maintain their independence and dignity by directing aides to perform their care.

While assisted suicide proponents depict assisted suicide as only a last resort for people with advanced cancer, Oregon’s doctors have written lethal prescriptions for individuals whose qualifying medical diagnosis for assisted suicide was reported as chronic conditions like diabetes, gastrointestinal disease, arthritis, arteritis, sclerosis, stenosis, kidney failure, and musculoskeletal systems disorders.

As in Oregon, under bill HB1659 a person can be considered “terminal” and therefore eligible for assisted suicide simply by refusing medication they need. By that definition, people who have epilepsy, ongoing infections and other illnesses that can be managed with medication can qualify. This legislation is not limited in scope and is actually far more dangerous than the proponents want to admit.

A report released in May 2018 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals that from 1999-2010, suicide among those aged 35-64 increased 49% in Oregon as compared to a 28% increase nationally. In Oregon, the rate of suicide is 21 percent above the national average and their rates of teen suicide have even been higher. There is a clear problem of suicide contagion.

While the bill proponents claim there are safeguards, there is absolutely no oversight once the medication is picked up from the pharmacy. Under the Oregon law and the proposed legislation, a “friend” can encourage an elder to make the assisted suicide request (“just in case”), sign the forms as a witness, pick up the prescription, and even administer the drug (since no independent witness is required). To be perfectly clear, the current bill being debated only discusses “self-administration” of the lethal drugs in the bill’s preamble; nowhere in the substantive provisions is the word mentioned.

This law is also vague about who can access it, but it would be far easier for an eighteen year old with a serious medical condition that could be controlled with medication to access this law than it would for the same eighteen-year-old to access cigarettes or alcohol.

There is nothing compassionate or caring in this bill. Instead it could serve as a template to encourage and even pressure the most vulnerable in our society, our older and critically ill populations, to hasten their deaths. And by giving legal immunity to everyone involved, it creates a legal framework where elder abuse (up to and including homicide), which nationally impacts about 10% of elders, gets a free pass. Please contact your legislators and have them oppose this very dangerous legislation.

Mike Reynolds is a member of Not Dead Yet, a disability rights group opposed to assisted suicide.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

MEMORIAL DAY gives us a long weekend and marks the beginning of summer, but I remember back in my Boy Scout youth attending a service at a military cemetery and listening to a chaplain talk about men who willingly gave their lives for their country, and heard taps played by a bugler in the d…

Monday, May 25, 2020
Friday, May 22, 2020
Wednesday, May 20, 2020

JENNY cut my hair yesterday out on the balcony in the sun and she kept laughing as she did, which doesn’t instill confidence to hear your haircutter laugh, but at least the hair stays out of my eyes and the worst part (she says) is in back, and we’re in isolation so who cares, and at my age …

Sunday, May 17, 2020
Friday, May 15, 2020
Wednesday, May 13, 2020

UNDER fire for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, President Donald Trump, his campaign and his party are moving to lay blame for the 80,000 U.S. dead at the feet of the Communist Party of China and, by extension, its longtime General Secretary, President Xi Jinping.

I MARRIED a perfectionist and am glad for it especially during this pandemonium or pandora or veranda or whatever it is we’re going through these days, even my dream life is clearer, more detailed than in normal times, which now are only a memory, those evenings when we ate dinner in a crowd…

Sunday, May 10, 2020
Friday, May 08, 2020

SPRING is here at last in our northern latitude and that is the news that transcends all other news. It arrived Sunday and we observed it by enjoying our first outdoor meal on our New York balcony, sitting in the shade of a potted tree, with two vegan-leaning friends and in their honor there…