Assisted Suicide Editorial Neglects Disability Rights Community

By Diane Coleman

The Daily Star’s opinion piece in support of legalizing assisted suicide (May 4, Aid-in-dying bill should get state approval) left out a major group when it mentioned the bill’s opponents, including religious opponents and physicians, but omitting disability organizations.

Among the groups testifying against assisted suicide bills at the recent Assembly Health Committee hearings were ADAPT, Center for Disability Rights, Center for Independence of the Disabled-NY, Jewish Disability Empowerment Center, Not Dead Yet and United Spinal Association.

Comparing people with a terminal prognosis to a pet that is “unable to care for itself and is in constant pain” raises understandable concerns among disabled people who need personal care services like me. When it comes to killing our pets, studies show it’s more about putting them out of the owner’s misery than the pet’s.

Pain is not the issue reported by people requesting assisted suicide in states where it’s legal, but rather feelings like “loss of dignity” and “being a burden on others,” disability issues that can be successfully addressed by supports like consumer-controlled in-home care and peer counseling.

So let’s stop conflating pets and people. In a society with an alarming increase in elder abuse, the risks of coercion and foul play should be obvious. There are no “safeguards” that work behind closed doors. Bills that put lethal drugs in the home of an old or disabled person are too dangerous to pass.

Diane Coleman

Rochester

Coleman is president and CEO of Not Dead Yet.

Source: In Your Opinion”, TheDailyStar.com

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