Legalizing Assisted Suicide for “Intellectually Disabled” Patients

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(The New American) – Delaware lawmakers are considering legislation that would legalize physician-assisted suicide, including that of “intellectually disabled” patients who may not be able to provide meaningful consent.

The Delaware End of Life Options Act was introduced by Representative Paul Baumbach, a Democrat. The bill was voted out of committee last year, so the full House of Representatives could bring it up for a vote as early as March, when the legislature’s next session begins.

Baumbach insists his bill concerns “not a life or death decision” but a “death or death decision” because it authorizes doctors to administer lethal drugs only to patients who have “an incurable and irreversible disease that has been medically confirmed and will, within reasonable medical judgment, produce death within 6 months.”

Critics have pointed out one major loophole in this definition: What about someone, such as a diabetic, whose illness is “incurable and irreversible” but nevertheless treatable? If the patient were not treated, his illness could kill him within six months. Would he therefore qualify as having a terminal disease under the bill’s terms? CONTINUE