Letter to the editor: Aid-in-dying laws fall short with marginalized patients

Editor's note: This letter to the editor is in response to the article New York physicians push for aid-in-dying law. It has been lightly edited.

Not all physicians agree with assisted suicide legislation, including the New York State Medical Society. 

In states and countries where medical aid in dying is legal, patients who are suffering from a terminal illness are too frequently directed to assisted suicide as a reasonable option to end their suffering without considering or mandating palliative or hospice care services first. Unfortunately, palliative and in-home hospice benefits in the U.S. are inconsistently resourced across the country, leaving the most vulnerable either a choice of assisted suicide or to continue to live as is without specialist-level care. Patients should not be forced to die without the possibility of accessing high-quality end-of-life care in a setting that is comfortable and surrounded by one's loved ones.

Rather than pushing for policies that legalize the medical killing of patients who are most vulnerable, there is a significant need for the healthcare system to improve end-of-life care options. The healthcare system is flawed and too often denies more expensive care for those most in need. Having worked on this issue among the opponents of physician-assisted suicide, I know that the legalization of physician-assisted death would not improve the care of terminally ill patients but would continue to put at risk the lives of persons with disabilities and those at the lower end of the income scale in communities of color. 

Let's instead do what is needed at this time and make high-quality palliative and hospice care more accessible for all.

Dr. Craig Blinderman is the director of adult palliative care service and an associate professor at the Columbia University Irving Medical Center in New York City.

Copyright © 2024 Becker's Healthcare. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy. Cookie Policy. Linking and Reprinting Policy.


Featured Whitepapers

Featured Webinars