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Fighting Assisted Suicide:
Matt Valliere (’05)

Posted: December 2, 2019

The Washington Examiner recently featured a profile of alumnus Matt Valliere (’05), executive director of the Patients Rights Action Fund, an organization dedicated to battling assisted suicide and providing truly compassionate care to the terminally ill. A member of the Class of 2005, Mr. Valliere earned a master’s degree in philosophy from Boston College and worked for several years in business before being asked by the Fund’s chairman — TAC classmate Greg Pfundstein (’05) — to lend his expertise to this worthy effort.

The most challenging part of his job, says Mr. Valliere, is unifying the disparate elements that make up the opposition to assisted suicide: religious conservatives, medical professionals, and disability-rights advocates. “At the outset, my original opinion was: How is it possible to bring all these odd bedfellows together?” he tells Kimberly Leonard, senior healthcare writer for the Examiner. “It took a lot of work.”

Although several states have, in recent years, legalized assisted suicide, Mr. Valliere points out that those defending human dignity have achieved some victories, too, with legalization efforts failing in New York, Nevada, and New Mexico. Fundamentally, he says, the Patients Rights Action Fund seeks equal treatment under the law for all — most especially people with chronic, life-threatening illness and disability, whose lives the state deems unworthy of protection when it sanctions physician-assisted suicide.

“Inherent in assisted suicide, both the public policy itself and in the practice, you have a circumstance where people with disabilities are being given a different, and not as good treatment, as those without,” says Mr. Valliere. “You have an inherently discriminatory practice in public policy.”