Disability rights activists have criticised an assisted suicide bill currently being debated in Delaware, saying it fails to protect people with intellectual disabilities.
The bill, which was introduced into the Delaware General Assembly last month, would allow assisted suicide for terminally ill patients over the age of 18. Controversially, an amendment to the bill states that patients with an intellectual disability can receive assisted suicide provided they are deemed competent by a social worker.
Not Dead Yet President Diane Coleman described the proposed amendment as a “misdirect”:
The Delaware bill, and the Oregon law on which it is based, do nothing to prevent or discover coercion, nor even to define it. The attending physician need not know the person well...The witnesses to the lethal drug request form need not know the person at all, but can simply check their ID. Yet these are the people who “certify” that there is “no coercion.”
Bioethicist Wesley Smith was similarly critical:
These are people who can’t legally enter contracts!...They can’t make their own medical decisions!...Yet, if they have a terminal illness, they are going to be able to commit assisted suicide if a social worker–who may be ideologically predisposed in favor–confirms that they “understand” that they are receiving a poison prescription?
On January 19, the amendment to the bill was passed and was attached to the legislation. The legislation now awaits consideration in the House.
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