Disability rights advocates fight California assisted suicide bill

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Anthony Orefice with his family

Anthony Orefice with his family

USA Today published a very interesting article by Anna Gorman of Kaiser Health News concerning the role of disability rights activists in the assisted suicide debate in America. For instance Anthony Orefice from Valencia California who had a motorcycle accident when he was 19.

Anthony Orefice hit a telephone pole on his motorcycle going 100 miles per hour. Doctors told his family he wouldn't survive. He did, but the accident left him paralyzed from the chest down ... All you are thinking is the worst, worst, worst – everything you can't do," ... "I wanted to be dead. 

Orefice, who is now 40, is married, has a 7-year-old son, owns a medical supply company and counsels people who are newly disabled with spinal cord injuries. Orefice says that:

"Depression,... is part of the healing process." 

Marilyn Golden (on right)

Orefice is one of many disability rights activists who are speaking up against the California assisted suicide bill. He and others are concerned that:

depression and incorrect prognoses may lead people with serious disabilities to end their lives prematurely.

Marilyn Golden, the senior policy analyst at Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund, argues that the assisted suicide bill poses "considerable dangers" to people with new disabilities who may have suicidal thoughts. Golden states that:

"It would almost be too easy to make an irrevocable choice,"

Golden added:

many people who initially received terminal diagnoses have "lived full lives (for) years or even decades" longer than expected.

John Kelly, with the disability rights group Not Dead Yet, explained that the disability rights groups were less organized when the Oregon and Washington State and Vermont passed assisted suicide bills, but since then they have effectively defeated assisted suicide bills in many states including Massachusetts, Colorado and Connecticut.

Link to the full article