Matt Vallière: Tough cases make bad law on assisted suicide

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Published: 07-09-2024 2:55 PM

Modified: 07-10-2024 8:37 PM

A writer’s recent letter about her friend’s experience with assisted suicide highlights a deeply personal and painful situation [“Choosing medical aid in dying,” June 25], but it’s crucial to address the broader implications of legalizing assisted suicide, which puts a great many at risk of coercion and deadly harm.

The potential for coercion, particularly among people with disabilities or living in poverty, is a serious concern. Legalizing assisted suicide creates an environment where vulnerable people feel pressured to choose death due to financial or emotional burdens. Tough cases may illustrate the complexity of end-of-life care and our broken health care system, but they do not adequately address the grave risks of abuse in a broader context.

It is essential to ensure that no one is coerced or feels obligated to opt for assisted suicide because of inadequate support or care. These situations all happen in Canada. And don’t say it can’t or won’t happen here. That’s what Canadians said when they first legalized assisted suicide.

Strengthening palliative care, hospice services, and mental health support, along with providing robust wraparound support systems, are the compassionate actions we should take that are without the ethical and practical risks of legalizing assisted suicide. Rather than adopting assisted suicide public policy, Massachusetts should focus on enhancing care and equitable access for those truly suffering, ensuring that every person receives the support they need.

Matt Vallière