In the wake of Governor Jerry Brown’s signing of the End of Life Option Act, California has become the sixth state in the US to allow physician assisted suicide. While the bill offers those in excruciating pain or discomfort the agency to end their own lives, some disability and elder advocates worry that it might be perverted to serve as a tool to allow for abuse. There are those who could be coerced into ending their lives for the benefit of the abuser, especially heirs who are in a hurry to inherit. Like all sweeping rules, it is important that activists and advocates keep a close watch to see that the policy is not misused by those in a position to gain.
One major concern for elder advocates is that seniors suffering from depression, a common and unfortunate side effect of medication and separation from loved ones, will take their lives prematurely and without considering other options. Some also fear that elders who fear they are a burden on family and firend will be more likely to end their lives early.
Although the law is certainly intended well, and is likely to help many who are suffering needlessly, it also opens a new avenue for abusers to manipulate elders and disabled people, who are at the fringes of the laws intended scope. Rather than helping those with terminal cancer or other diseases, it may be used as a tool for ending the lives of those who are simply experiencing the normal aging process. It is important to be aware of possible ancillary effects, and advocates are sure to pay close attention to the outcomes of this new law.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of elder abuse, or you believe you have witnessed elder abuse occurring, please contact the Evans law firm at (415) 441-8669.