This letter was published by Not Dead Yet on their website on September 22, 2015.
[NDY’s letter to Governor Brown enclosed a 1976 image of the Governor, during his previous stint as Governor of California, appointing Ed Roberts, considered the “father of independent living”, to head up the California rehabilitation agency.]
Ask Governor Jerry Brown to veto the assisted suicide bill.
September 21, 2015
Governor Jerry Brown
c/o State Capitol, Suite 1173
Sacramento, CA 95814
Ed Roberts with Governor Jerry Brown
Dear Governor Brown:
Even though I was born with a disability, I didn’t become part of the disability rights movement until my early 30’s, when I joined the board of directors of the Westside Center for Independent Living in Los Angeles. One of the first stories I heard was about Ed Roberts and how you appointed him to head up the state rehabilitation agency. Your groundbreaking and courageous action in making that appointment flew in the face of common disability stereotypes and began a transformation that affected the whole country.
I met Ed several times over the years. As I’m sure you know, he went on to lead the World Institute on Disability, along with Judy Heumann. What you may not know is that the World Institute on Disability came to oppose the legalization of assisted suicide. The same is true of every other national disability organization that has taken a position on the assisted suicide issue.
It’s frustrating to see the issue portrayed as a progressive social cause. By the time disability rights activists entered the fray, well-funded assisted suicide proponents had already framed the debate for the media. Nineteen years ago, urged by friends and colleagues with whom I had struggled to be heard on this issue, I founded Not Dead Yet. We’re a national, grassroots disability group with activists in most U.S. states, including California, who oppose legalization of assisted suicide. We also promote policies that seek to ensure that the withholding and withdrawal of life sustaining healthcare is truly informed and voluntary, not the result of devaluation of the lives of old, ill and disabled people.