Assisted suicide talks don’t include all info

*Assisted suicide talks don’t include all info *Schlossberg, Koes for Niskayuna board
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Categories: Letters to the Editor

Assisted suicide talks don’t include all info

Re Sara Foss’ April 30 column, “Making a case for assisted suicide”: Like Sara Foss, I, too, welcome a larger discussion of the issues surrounding assisted suicide. And I also attended the Niskayuna workshop that was organized by the Final Exit Network.

But I don’t think a larger discussion of the issues can take place until all the issues are on the table. And all the issues don’t get put on the table when groups like Final Exit Network tell their audience that “absolutely no abuses” have taken place in states where doctor-assisted suicide is legal. How could they possibly know that?

Under the law, doctors who “aid-in-dying” are required to state untruthfully on the death certificate that their patient’s cause of death was their underlying illness, and not the lethal dose of drugs they prescribed that killed them. There is absolutely no way to track abuses. (This same provision is in the New York Senate proposal, by the way.)

Nor are all the issues on the table when an audience is left with the impression that physician-assisted suicide “would be regulated,” as Ms. Foss was, and told that “safeguards” are included in the proposed legislation here in New York. Here are just a few safeguards that are not in the bill:

1) There is no requirement for counseling for possible clinical depression causing impaired judgment. Most people considering suicide are depressed — it is a cry for help.

2) There is no requirement for family notification to advise family members that their loved one is requesting a lethal dose of drugs.

3) There is no requirement that witnesses to the request be adults, and one of the witnesses can be someone who stands to gain financially from the patient’s death.

4) There are no safeguards at the time the patient actually ingests the lethal pills to ensure they are not being coerced or tricked, leaving many vulnerable ill, elderly and disabled patients at risk of abuse.

As a society, we should spend more time and resources promoting palliative medicine, pain management and hospice care for persons who are terminally ill, to enable them to die a natural death with dignity.

Kathleen Gallagher

Schenectady

Schlossberg, Koes for Niskayuna board

Last year I wrote a letter encouraging my fellow residents and voters to act on the dysfunction that had paralyzed the Niskayuna Board of Education and had led to a number of very controversial decisions.

We sent a very clear message and elected two new board members, which led to a new board president. This, coupled with interim superintendent John Yagielski’s outstanding leadership, have created some positive momentum and have contributed to a greater level of transparency and accountability at the board level and a degree of healing throughout the community.

However, our work is not nearly done; further changes are needed. We again have the opportunity to enact change by electing two new members. Six candidates are running for two seats, including Barbara Mauro, who has been on the board for 18 years. Mauro was strongly connected to the former board president and wrongly voted for the ouster of the former varsity basketball coach, which shattered the community.

Mauro and newcomer Barbara Burgess are friends, so bet that Burgess will partner with and lean on Mauro for direction. It’s time for Mauro to be held accountable for her 18-year record.

That leaves four viable candidates. But I believe in the final analysis, the two best are Dr. Howard Schlossberg and David Koes; both are highly credentialed and will have Niskayuna’s best interests at heart — our children and our community. Please join me in voting for Howard and David on Tuesday, May 19.

Lastly, on behalf of my family, friends, and colleagues, I want to thank Bob Winchester and John Yagielski for their service, leadership and integrity.

Steve Benton

Niskayuna

School vote letters

The deadline for submitting letters relating to the May 19 school budget vote and school board elections is Friday, May 8, at 5 p.m.

Election-related letters received after that time might not be published prior to the election.

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