February 04, 2022

Correa, Wenstrup Announce Reintroduction of Bipartisan Resolution to Address Risk of Legalizing Physician-Assisted Suicide

Washington, D.C. – Today, Rep. Lou Correa (D-CA) and Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) announced the reintroduction of H.Con.Res.79, a bipartisan resolution recognizing the risk of physician-assisted suicide on the most vulnerable, at risk of harm and ensures a person at the end of their life has access to quality medical care. 

“Americans with terminal illnesses and disabilities deserve access to quality health care and should not have their opportunity for a dignified life taken away from them,” said Congressman Lou Correa (D-CA), “I have various concerns with assisted suicide laws and proposals that may adversely affect patients. This resolution intends to protect vulnerable patients across the country from any attempts to pressure them into assisted suicide.“

Physician-assisted suicide devalues human life and puts the most vulnerable among us – seniors, individuals with disabilities, and people dealing with psychiatric diagnoses – at grave risk,” said Congressman Wenstrup. “As a country, we must do better and instead focus on providing the most comprehensive medical care possible to individuals nearing the end of their lives. We cannot lose sight of the undeniable fact that every life has value.”

The bipartisan H.Con.Res.79  is supported  by numerous nonpartisan patients’ right and disability rights national organizations, including ADAPT Organizer in DE, Patients Rights Action Fund, National Council on Independent Living, and Not Dead Yet.

“I am a wheelchair-using, multi-disabled woman. Many of my friends and acquaintances with disabilities have been lost to Covid-19 because of early rationing of treatment, while preferring younger people without disabilities who are determined to be more valuable than those of us with disabilities.  Many of us have become closer to terminal for lack of even standard, typical treatments and care during this pandemic,” stated Daniese McMullin-Powell, an ADAPT Organizer. “Yet, according to the Oregon reported reasons people are requesting assisted suicide, every person receiving a lethal prescription is disabled; and pain is not even in the top five reasons, which are all disability-related concerns. Medicine and policy need to refocus on assuring advances in pain management, home care, and extending and supporting a better life.

"Congressmen Lou Correa, Brad Wenstrup, and all the cosponsors should be commended for introducing this new truly bi-partisan Sense of Congress resolution which highlights the inherently discriminatory nature of assisted suicide laws. A report from the National Council on Disability found that people living with disabilities are targeted for disfavored, deadly treatment and face greater barriers to accessing health care when assisted suicide is legal. We as a society should ensure that vulnerable people enjoy the same access to suicide prevention care and all health care as everyone else. I encourage lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to support this legislation that exposes the dangers of assisted suicide," said Matt Vallière, Executive Director, Patients Rights Action Fund.

“Our society places a high value on ability and stigmatizes significant disability. It's no surprise that those of us with a wide variety of disabilities see disability as a huge loss of worth and place in our society,” said Darrell Lynn Jones, Interim Executive DirectorNational Council on Independent Living. “Some people with disabilities may go through a time where they feel they might be better off dead. As one struggles to get basic needs met, some people feel worn down. If assisted suicide had been legal in the past, even if it were supposedly only for those with 'terminal' conditions, I might not be here today. I’m grateful that assisted suicide was not legal back then, and I'm committed to keeping it that way. This is an important reason why the National Council on Independent Living opposes assisted suicide laws. NCIL is a leader in the disability rights movement, our political struggle for equal rights.

"Where assisted suicide is legal, it is inevitable that some people's lives will be ended without their consent due to implicit bias, mistakes, or coercion. No safeguards, existing or proposed, are adequate enough to prevent these abuses, and the lack of oversight only increases the danger to already at-risk individuals," said Michelle Uzeta, Of Counsel, Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund. “Our priority should be on improving and expanding health care services that people with disabilities and all marginalized communities rely on to live, instead of making it easier to end our lives."

"As a national, secular, social justice organization, Not Dead Yet strongly supports this bipartisan effort to speak truth to counter the many myths about legalized assisted suicide," said Diane Coleman, President/CEO, Not Dead Yet. "As Americans with disabilities, we are on the front lines of the nation's health care system that too often devalues old, ill, and disabled people. We are deeply concerned that profits are being prioritized over human needs. So we are grateful for this Sense of Congress that explains the dangers of mistake, coercion, and abuse under a public policy of assisted suicide."