The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Technology

April 13, 2013

Boomers Push Doctor-Assisted Dying in End-of-Life Revolt

(Continued)

"I opposed this because I thought people would kill themselves too quickly, that the poor would be shuffled over," Caplan said. "It just didn't happen."

While Caplan has changed his views, opposition from doctors, religious organizations, anti-abortion groups and disability advocates hasn't been swayed. They are waging their own campaigns at the state level against legalizing any form of aided dying.

The Washington, D.C.-based anti-abortion advocacy group National Right to Life takes the position that all life has value and the priority should also be trying to improve the quality of life for patients with terminal illness, said Jennifer Popik, legislative counsel for the organization. The group helps its state affiliates lobby against the measures.

"You don't fix the problem by killing the patients," Popik said. "We want the focus to be on saving as many lives as possible and having people's quality of life be as high as it can be."

Patients with disabilities have also opposed the bills, showing up at state legislative hearings, including one last month in Connecticut. Diane Coleman, president of disability- rights group Not Dead Yet, based in Rochester, N.Y., said her group worries the laws could put pressure on disabled patients to end their lives when they feel they are becoming a burden on their families.

"I feel like there is a pressure being placed on folks against getting good health care when they have advanced conditions, as in we shouldn't be wasting money on them," Coleman said. "It is very much a concern that some people will feel pressure to end their life."

Those fears have merit given the high cost of end-of-life treatment, said Tia Powell, director of the Montefiore Einstein Center for Bioethics in New York. Powell said she doesn't have a stance on the laws.

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