Disability Rights Toolkit for Advocacy Against Legalization of Assisted Suicide

This resource was originally published on the Not Dead Yet website.

Marilyn Golden

Marilyn Golden

"If this bill passes, some people’s lives will be ended without their consent, through mistakes and abuse. No safeguards have ever been enacted or proposed that can prevent this outcome, which can never be undone."

- Marilyn Golden, Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund


The purpose of this Toolkit is to give disability rights advocates an organized set of resources to assist in defeating proposals to legalize assisted suicide in state legislatures.  The Toolkit is divided into seven brief sections, each consisting of basic information and links to related resources with more information.  The seven sections are:

  1. Why disability advocacy groups oppose legalizing assisted suicide
  2. Educating and organizing disability opposition
  3. Meeting with legislators and policy leaders
  4. Testifying at hearings
  5. Working with the media
  6. Conducting direct actions – leafleting, rallying
  7. Working in coalition

All of the major national disability groups that have taken a position on assisted suicide oppose bills to legalize the practice as a matter of public policy.  The disability role in defeating these bills has increased in visibility and importance in the last few years as both media and various stakeholders have acknowledged our effectiveness.  It is critical that our voice be heard wherever assisted suicide bills are introduced and considered.

 1. Why disability advocacy groups oppose legalizing assisted suicide

Proponents of legal assisted suicide for the terminally ill frequently claim that the opposing views of disability organizations aren’t relevant.  Nevertheless, although people with disabilities aren’t usually terminally ill, the terminally ill are almost always disabled.   People with disabilities and chronic conditions live on the front lines of the health care system that serves (and, sadly, often underserves) dying people.  One might view us as the “canaries in the coal mine,” alerting others to dangers we see first, but, unlike the canary, we loudly object to being seen as expendable.

Link to the full article