Assisted suicide ruling warps the perception of people with disabilities

This article was published in the Ottawa Citizen on February 6, 2015. Taylor Hyatt was a spokesperson for the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition at the Supreme Court on February 6.

Taylor Hyatt

Taylor Hyatt

By Elizabeth Payne - Ottawa Citizen.

Link to the video interview with Taylor Hyatt.

Carleton University student Taylor Hyatt has long looked up to Manitoba MP Steven Fletcher.

“Young people with disabilities have fewer role models to show them that they can dream, they can aspire to many of the same things as people without disabilities,” she says.

But when student and role model met briefly last October at the Supreme Court of Canada, where arguments were being heard in advance of Friday’s landmark ruling on assisted suicide, they found themselves on either side of a sharp ideological divide. Fletcher, a quadriplegic, is among the highest-profile Canadian supporters of physician-assisted death; Hyatt, who has cerebral palsy and relies on a wheelchair, opposes it and finds Fletcher’s position “shocking.”

On Friday, a shaken Hyatt called the Supreme Court of Canada’s ruling allowing doctor-assisted death both disappointing and worrisome, especially for its inclusion of “disability” among “grievous and irremediable” medical conditions that might be included in physician-assisted suicides. The court did not limit physician-assisted suicide to people whose condition is terminal, but instead referred to “a competent adult person who clearly consents to the termination of life and has a grievous and irremediable medical condition, including an illness, disease or disability, that causes enduring suffering that is intolerable to the individual.”

Link to the full article