Disability advocate: Abandoned, neglected and brokenhearted after Canadian Assisted Death decision

Right Honourable Justin Trudeau
Prime Minister of Canada
November 17 2015

Abandoned, Neglected, brokenhearted I am left crying myself to sleep” - What the ruling of the Supreme Court of Canada in the Carter case has meant to me and many other Canadians.”

Dear Prime Minister

Steven Passmore with Steven Fletcher in 2009.

Steven Passmore with
Steven Fletcher in 2009.

When I was a child my family placed me in a “home” for kids like me – I had disabilities because of cerebral palsy. Over the course of my six years stay I felt totally abandoned by my family. One question would often fill my thoughts, “does anyone really care?” In the wake of the Supreme Court decision in Carter, decriminalizing euthanasia and physician assisted suicide, I feel that same abandonment and again the question circles my mind after all these years – “does anyone really care?”

I have been abandoned by several key sectors of society -  among these are, the Canadian Supreme Court, the Canadian Government, Canadian Law, the Canadian Medical Association, the Church in Canada and the Canadian Media.

You may ask why a sense of abandonment and this would be my answer. These sectors were the pillars of society on which, I knew as a Canadian living with disabilities, I could depend upon to look after me, uphold my rights, to life, to support, care and protection.

Now with the Supreme Court decision in Carter, I have lost my confidence in these institutions to protect me. I was told recently, “Steven you should not go to the doctor alone – make sure you have someone to go with you.” So what am I left to do – who will hold my hand? The sense of abandonment, my sense of grief and disappointment is so palpable it is like a yoke on my shoulders. Where do I go now, to whom do I speak?

I want to live even though some people may not find my life worth living. I am grateful to all of the key sectors that I mentioned for the life I have had so far. But when the law allows physicians to kill patients and those with consciences are forced to kill or pressured out of medicine. When people who want to kill themselves are exulted in the media to the point where we change the law and the voice of those of us who wish to live is disregarded and silenced – what am I to think?

Over the last 25 years, I have spoken about three key issues facing people with disabilities, equality, value and acceptance. I have tried to communicate to all Canadians that these three things must be protected under Canadian law to keep us all safe. People like me have always known that we were just tolerated, not really accepted, had no value and no equality in the eyes of many Canadians. Society built us ramps to buildings but not to Canadian hearts.

Link to the full letter