I am terrified – not just for myself, but for the people in my community

by Samantha Connor, Gimpled, 26 September 2016

Ms Connor writes an open letter to the Greens Party regarding their intention to introduce a bill in Victoria to legalise euthanasia and assisted suicide.

Like every other Australian, I think that we should be able to die pain free, with dignity. 

Unlike some other Australians, I can’t support assisted suicide legislation. 

The reason?  I am a disabled woman with a degenerative disability. 

The news that the Greens will introduce an assisted suicide bill has been welcomed by many members of the community, including my own.  Like all communities, the disability community is divided on the subject of how to die.  But for many of us, the proposal is targeted directly at us.  

Degenerative disabilities are often conflated with terminal illness so seamlessly and ingeniously by the media that our deaths are seen as inevitable and desirable.  Popular fiction romanticises our deaths and paints disability as a tragedy.  The idea of our ‘suffering’ is based on the perspective of non-disabled people, as are ideas about our ‘quality of life’.  

I listen to people talking carefully about safeguarding and the authority of doctors and I am terrified – not just for myself, but for the people in my community.  You might not understand that, but that is because you do not know what we know.  For us, this is personal.

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