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The deadly push for assisted suicide

by Julie Hocker, The Washington Times, 13 May 2018

First, assisted suicide bills create a scale to determine those individuals a state will protect and those who are deemed less valuable. With a yardstick created by well-paid death advocates, doctors will legally determine if a fellow New Yorker fits into the category of “better off dead.”

And while proponents of this bill will tell you the bill addresses intolerable suffering, 20 years of data from Oregon (the “pioneer state” for assisted suicide) tell us that three out of four people who ask their doctors for help committing suicide do so because they feel they have become too great a burden to their loved ones or miss participating in daily activities without assistance.

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Legalising voluntary euthanasia a slippery slope: Geriatrician

by Anneke Smith, Hawke’s Bay Today, 19 May 2018

His biggest concern was that doctors and nurses would become too relaxed about the due processes in place and end the lives of those who either didn’t want euthanasia or weren’t eligible.

“A person might have a severe disability or illness which qualifies him or her for euthanasia but what do you do about the next person comes along who has not quite got the same symptoms and signs as earlier ones but is also demanding euthanasia?

“Over a period of time you get this thing called incrementalism, gradual development where what started as a small issue become a major issue in society.”

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‘End of life bill demeans the disabled’

by Thomas Coughlan, Newsroom, 22 May 2018

The euthanasia bill risks sending a message to the disabled that their lives are valued less than the lives of abled-bodied New Zealanders, the Disability Rights Commissioner says.

She argued that the inclusion of disabled people in the legislation sent a message that disabled lives were not worth living.

Tesoriero said that a suicidal disabled person who met the Bill’s criteria would be allowed to end their life, whereas an abled-bodied person who also wanted to end their life would be given social support and counselling and would be prohibited from assisted suicide. 

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I am a disabled person and I don’t back the right to die for one very important reason

by James Moore, Independent, 5 October 2017

I am aware that even the late Professor Stephen Hawking shifted his position on assisted suicide, arguing in a BBC interview that “to keep someone alive against their wishes is the ultimate indignity” and stating that he would consider assisted suicide were he in “great pain or felt I had nothing more to contribute but was just a burden to those around me”. 

But that comment about being a burden troubles me. It’s very possible that an otherwise more or less happy disabled person could suddenly find themselves in a difficult situation with family or carers, and could, as a result, start to become so convinced that they were a “burden” that they might feel the same way when with the proper support they wouldn’t dream of it. 

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Kylee Black: End of Life Choice Bill alarmingly ambiguous for disabled people

by Natalie Akoorie, The New Zealand Herald, 7 March 2018

She pointed out that the bill in its current form does not address whether a doctor is allowed to raise euthanasia with a patient. And that a doctor is not permitted to dissuade a patient from euthanasia if they are eligible.

“What happens if I, as a young person with an irremediable condition, wheel into a doctors and say, ‘I’m suicidal, my life has suffering. I want euthanasia’, and a person without a health condition goes in and asks for the same thing?

“For people not eligible for euthanasia, support to live is given. Does that mean healthy people get access to suicide support, but those with an incurable disability do not?”

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Dr John Fox: Assisted dying is not the right cure for suffering

by Dr John Fox, The New Zealand Herald, 31 January 2018

It is only disabled people who seem to be a category we cannot support; only the end of life as a society we cannot face. Because here is the reality: legalising euthanasia under the model on the table now does not simply apply to hard cases like Mr Rope’s father, people with strong minds and wills who know what they want.

To include not only the terminally ill, but people with incurable and severe conditions means me, and the vast majority of disabled people.

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Assisted suicide laws are creating a ‘duty-to-die’ medical culture

by Helena Berge, The Hill, 17 December 2017

When it comes to assisted suicide, we see in states like Oregon, where assisted suicide has been legal for two decades, the percentage of Oregon deaths attributed to a patient’s reluctance to “burden” their families rose from 13 percent in 1998 to 40 percent in 2014.

This reveals that the right to die “option” for some vulnerable populations has quickly become more like a duty to die.

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‘Death with dignity’ devalues disability

by Mike Volkman, Times Union, 27 November 2017

What does it mean to die with dignity? Or the opposite, what is death without dignity or with indignity? There is no legal definition. It is a phrase people like to use with the hope that it is sufficient and accepted. Remember the bit George Carlin did in 1992 about euphemisms? They hide the truth.

Legislative bodies should come up with legal definitions for the term. They should specify what constitutes dignified ways of dying. When they come to define what are undignified ways of dying, the challenge is how to do it without describing circumstances that go with disability. Because if they can’t get around that, then it makes one thing perfectly clear.

That one thing is that it is in the interests of the state to protect all lives except those of people with disabilities. If the presence of a disability, whether it is from birth or from later acquisition, makes it justifiable to place a value judgment on a person for a life-or-death decision, that makes an entire class of people subject to a double standard. That is state-sponsored bigotry allowing up to one sixth of the population to be discarded and unprotected.

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Disabled lives are worth living – euthanasia implies otherwise

by Claire Freeman, Stuff, 15 December 2017

While it is commendable that we are discussing euthanasia, we need to be extremely careful not to make assumptions about the quality of life of others like myself – people with grievous and irremediable medical conditions.

When the majority of health professionals believe that lives like mine are not worth living, we have a problem.

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A message to Victorians on euthanasia

by Liz Carr, The Spectator, 17 August 2017

Liz Carr is a UK actor, comedian and disability rights activist perhaps best known as forensic examiner Clarissa Mullery in the BBC’s Silent Witness.

Disability is fundamental in any discussion about assisted suicide: those high profile campaigns calling for a change to the law are almost always fronted by those who would be described as disabled. As a wheelchair user who needs 24-hour assistance with the most personal of tasks, the people we see in the media calling for help to end their lives, often look like me. No, they often look healthier than I do. But when we have so few representations of disabled people on TV or in the media then the assumption becomes that people like me must find life unbearable and that of course, we’d want to end our lives.

There is such a fine line between terminal illness and disability both medically and in public perception, that they become one and the same. Consequently, assisted suicide is seen as an understandable and rational response to both. Perhaps that’s why I’ve had complete strangers tell me that if they were like me then they couldn’t go on.

Perhaps that’s one of the reasons I oppose the legalisation of assisted suicide? As long as some lives are deemed as not worth living and are viewed as less valuable than others, there is the unwitting potential that state sanctioned assisted suicide would further enshrine this inequality in law. When most people choose to end their life, we offer prevention but when ill, dying, older and disabled people talk about doing the same, they are often met with understanding and encouragement.

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