It is now legal in five states for doctors to assist in the death of terminally ill patients. In California, where I live with my husband and four children, ages 5 to 11, a bill to allow physician-assisted suicide is moving forward. This bill, known as SB 128, is misleading and diminishes everything I go through. Proponents believe that this is about an individual choice. It's not.
Legalizing physician-assisted suicide would place those who are depressed, poor, disabled or elderly at risk. By supporting SB 128, we are essentially telling those who are weak that they are a burden. And patients who lack good emotional support and psychological care are more likely to take that message to heart. I am not trying to take away anybody's rights. I am trying to protect society's most vulnerable, like myself. When anyone else is suicidal, we get them help and send them to a doctor. We don't hand them a loaded gun.
According to the Oregon Public Health Division’s 2014 report, there were 105 assisted suicide deaths last year, a 44 percent increase from the previous year. Of those 105, only three were referred for psychiatric or psychological evaluation. Like Oregon's law, SB 128 would not require physicians to refer individuals for psychiatric diagnosis. We'd have no records on whether those who chose to die by assisted suicide were mentally sound or depressed.