People with Disabilities Opposing the Legalization of Assisted Suicide
“We are Massachusetts residents with disabilities who oppose the 2012 state ballot question to legalize assisted suicide. This legislation is dangerous and discriminatory, especially for elders and people with disabilities. We encourage Massachusetts voters to look deeper into the issue – to have Second Thoughts about assisted suicide.”
“Bill allowing doctor-assisted suicide has troubling aspects”
(Lewiston Sun Journal — April 28, 2013)
For someone dealing with a new diagnosis without proper supports,trying to navigate the bureaucracy while trying to obtain mobility devices or other items critical to daily living, one can see how vulnerable patients may see assisted suicide as an easier choice.
“NDY President Diane Coleman Submits Comments on Futile Care Policies”
(April 22, 2013)
The common thread running through stories we hear is that our lives with disability are seen as less worth living, so much less that health care providers too often think that death is the correct course. They press this viewpoint on us, our families and sometimes even overrule us when we disagree.
Testimony of John B. Kelly of Second Thoughts before the Vermont House Human Services Committee (April 11, 2013)
“Disabled people may struggle to get specialty care”
(Reuters — March 16, 2013)
A 22-year-old student at Ohio State University in Columbus, she uses an electric wheelchair and finds waiting rooms and examination rooms are often hard to maneuver….Often times, she said she can’t get an appointment at all — because a facility’s entrance has steps, without a ramp or a life.
“Helen Keller, Anne Sullivan and Assisted Suicide”
(American Spectator — January 17, 2013)
What advice would the young Helen Keller receive if she were alive today?
Helen Keller became both blind and deaf after an illness when she was 19 months. She was taught to communicate at age 7, and she went on, during a long life of 88 years, to contribute to our lives. Apparently no one told the story of Helen Keller to the identical Belgian twin men, age 45, cobblers both, who sought and obtained assisted suicide in Belgium in December.
“National Federation of the Blind Comments on Belgian Euthanasia of Deaf Men Losing Sight”
(NFB — January 15, 2013)
“This disturbing news from Belgium is a stark example of the common, and in this case tragic, misunderstanding of disability and its consequences. Adjustment to any disability is difficult, and deaf-blind people face their own particular challenges but from at least the time of Helen Keller it has been known that these challenges can be met….”
“NDY Activists Leaflet Justice Action Center (NY Law School)”
(Not Dead Yet — November 19, 2012)
Last Friday, three disability activists in New York City went to the Justice Action Center at the NY Law School to distribute flyers protesting the way in which a symposium on “Freedom of Choice at the End of Life” handled “issues of concern” that people with disabilities have with proponents of assisted suicide (and other “end of life” issues). The “discussion” was relegated to a session about “special people” and the discussion framed by opponents of disability rights advocates and activists.
“Bioethicist Endorses Mass. Assisted Suicide Bill in a Sloppy and Intellectually Lazy Essay”
(Not Dead Yet — November 2, 2012)
The organizations pushing legalization of assisted suicide are sophisticated and well-funded. And, like many advocacy organizations, they are following an incrementalist strategy in terms of their policy goals. Through polling, focus groups and experience, they’ve developed a vocabulary about these topics that draws a favorable response from the public. And, for the moment, the more “respectable” groups are sticking to policy that is allegedly limited to people who are “terminally ill.”
But the signs of more expansive “advocacy” are already in evidence.
“NY Law School — Justice Action Center’s Upcoming Annual Justice Symposium Not Fair to Disability Advocates, Let Alone ‘Just’”
(Not Dead Yet — October 24, 2012)
It would be understandable if you thought that this was actually an event planned and presented by Compassion and Choices, with the Justice Action Center merely playing the host. It would be clear because the presence of Compassion and Choices activists dominates this symposium.
“Family of Down’s patient sue hospital over DNR order”
(The Guardian — September 12, 2012)
Relatives allege doctor at NHS hospital in Kent added “do not resuscitate” order to man’s notes on basis of his disability …After he was discharged, a carer unpacking his bag found a DNR form. “It was folded in four in his belongings. She was absolutely horrified, The issue had not been discussed with any relatives at the hospital. X said.
“Conundrum of a Death Foretold”
(New York Times — August 27, 2012)
For some, wheelchairs and prosthetic limbs may seem the very emblem of triumph over life’s vicissitudes. But, for many, those same device are prisons without hope of reprieve, symbols of ailments that preclude the striving for athletic redemtion.
“Assisted Suicide Laws Violate the ADA”
(Not Dead Yet — July 25, 2012)
Not Dead Yet has always taken the position that assisted suicide laws violate the ADA by setting up a double standard for how society responds to a person who says they want to commit suicide – some people get suicide prevention and others get suicide assistance, and the difference is the person’s health and disability status.
“It’s expensive to support the disabled – suicide kits are $39.95″
(Winnepeg Free Press — July 21, 2012)
Arthur Schafer’s portrayal of comments on the merits of physician-assisted suicide need challenging. Schafer, like many supports of physician-assisted suicide (also known as “doctor-prescribed death”), does not seem to have considered the wider issues facing Canadians with disabilities, including the ongoing social prejudice and discouraging lack of living supports that we encounter on a daily basis.
“Disability Discrimination: The Author Responds”
(Hastings Center Bioethics Forum — July 27, 2012)
Worse yet, few scholars have discussed the implications of New York State’s Palliative Care Information Act for people with disability. The law, which went into effect in 2011, requires “physicians and nurse practitioners to offer terminally-ill patients information and counseling concerning palliative care and end of life options.” The hospitalist I met did this — my prognosis was made clear, the range of options discussed…. The problem is, at no point was I terminally ill.
“Comfort Care as Denial of Personhood”
(Hastings Center Report — July-August 2012)
“Many assume that disability is a fate worse than death. So we admire people with disability who want to die, and we shake our collective heads in confusion when they want to live.”
(Hastings Center bioethics forum — July 11, 2012)
While he had no illusions about the gravity of his condition William J. Peace was unprepared for what a hospital physician said to him. Peace wrote, “Although not explicitly stated, the message was loud and clear. “I can help you to die peacefully.”
“Assisted Suicide and Disability: Another Perspective”
(Diane Coleman — American Bar Association; Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities)
“I don’t want to live like this one more day,” she said firmly. “I’ve had enough.” She had been forced, at 26 to leave her masters program. Her car had been repossessed. Following a miscarriage, her marriage had broken up. Her brother had drowned. And now her mother had been diagnosed with cancer.
“Assisted suicide laws create discriminatory double standard for who gets suicide and who gets suicide assistance: Not Dead Yet Responds to Autonomy, Inc.”
Diane Coleman — Disability and Health Journal — 2010)
“Key Objections to the Legalization of Assisted Suicide”
(DREDF — Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund)
Ten key objections with links to documentation.
“Killing us softly: the dangers of legalizing assisted suicide”
(Marilyn Golden & Tyler Zoanni — Disability and Health Journal – 2010)
Overview of the problems with the legalization of assisted suicide as public policy.
“No. we don’t think our doctors are out to get us: Responding to the straw man distortions of disability rights arguments against assisted suicide”
(Carol Gill — Disability and Health Journal – 2010)
The arguments that disability rights advocates present in opposition to legalized assisted suicide are frequently misconstrued in public debate.
“Public Health, populations, and lethal ingestion”
(Kirk Allison — Disability and Health Journal — 2010)
In 2008 the American Public Health Association endorsed lethal ingestion as a public health policy as part of “Patients’ Rights to Self-Determination at the end of Life.”