The Right to Die.

By Dr William Peace

William Peace and Students

William Peace and Students

I find the notion that one has the right to die impossible to disentangle. Death is not a right it is a biological inevitability. All humans that are born will die. Death is inevitable. The so called right to die is incorrectly framed. People want to control how their life will end. Superficially, this makes sense but typically people die in a hospital or nursing home after a long physical decline. According to various sources, only 25% of Americans die at home. What the right to die really involves is a primal desire for control. In my opinion the belief a person can control one's death is narcissistic in the extreme. As I have noted many times, we do not live or die in a social vacuum. Our death has meaning that extends well beyond the person that has died or is dying. Our lives are not equally valued, a fact those that advocate for assisted suicide legislation refuse to acknowledge. Bias exists in many forms. For me, the bias I deal with on a daily basis is called ableism. I rarely hear this term. In fact the only place I hear this term is on university campuses. Fred Pelka, in the ABC-Clio Companion to the Disability Rights Movement, defined ableism as follows:

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Mortality: It's About Living

This article was written by Bill Peace and published on his Bad Cripple Blog on December 21.

Bill Peace - center of picture.

Bill Peace - center of picture.

Brittany Maynard has quietly slipped away from the media's attention. For me and many others opposed to assisted suicide this is a great relief. I spent far too much time talking, thinking and writing about Maynard and the slick ad campaign waged by Compassion and Choices. I wish her family well as they endure the grieving process. I know all too well grieving the death of someone you loved is a never ending source of sorrow. I have been pondering end of life issues the last few weeks. Winter is settling in where I live. The days are short and the nights are long. It is cold and crisp. The end of the year is near and this always makes me retrospective. I miss my son who lives in Seattle and he will be celebrating his first adult Christmas away from home. I have been looking at many cherished photos of him when he was a little boy. He was a cute kid but a royal pain in the ass for his secondary school teachers to handle. Think smart and subversive and that is my son. The apple does not fall far from the tree. I am happy to take my share of the blame or credit and this has me thinking. What sort of job did I do as a father? What will he remember? Will he remember how I lived or died?

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Brittany Maynard: Assisted Suicide is Not a Personal Act

By Bill Peace

Bill Peace is on the left.

Bill Peace is on the left.

I am opposed to assisted suicide legislation.  In the last month end of life in the form of assisted suicide has been at the forefront of my mind thanks to Tim Bowers and Brittany Maynard. Maynard's story has gone viral and millions of people have seen her video created with the assistance of Compassion and Choices. Bowers was briefly in the news a year ago. Bowers was an avid hunter who fell from a tree stand and experienced a severe spinal cord injury. He died within 24 hours of the injury. What makes Bowers death unusual was that his family requested heavy sedation be lifted so he could decide if he wanted to live or die. Bowers chose to die.

Any nuanced effort to analyze why Bowers died immediately after a spinal cord injury is perceived to be in bad taste if not cruel. Any criticism of Maynard’s highly public end of life replete with two tear jerking videos is also thought to be cruel. How can one criticize Maynard and others who are terminally ill? Criticism is needed. Without criticism and serious discussion end of life issues will remain obscured. This criticism is not about Maynard or Bowers directly. I do not in any way criticize the Maynard or Bowers families. Maynard can legally die in Oregon via the Death with Dignity Act: that is her legal right. Bowers family had the legal right to ask Tim Bowers if he wanted to die. Both the Maynard and Bowers families did what they thought was right. Again, I do not question this. Maynard and Bowers were loved by their families. I accept this as a given and they have my deepest sympathies.

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Brittany Maynard Lashes Out at Ira Byock. Bad Cripple responds.

Maynard's story and advocacy for Compassion and Choices can be questioned. She has purposely opted to have a highly visible death. She has foregone privacy in an effort to advocate for assisted suicide legislation for every American. Given this, I think those that agree and disagree can freely comment on how Compassion and Choices is using her to advocate for assisted suicide legislation. Maynard is a political advocate. I find it impossible to believe she and her family are unaware at how influential she is or how powerful the images associated with her life and terminal condition have affected people. Her video went viral and has been seen by millions of people. Maynard via Compassion and Choices has not highlighted the soon to be tragic end of one young woman's life far too young but rather push legislators to pass assisted suicide legislation. To question her motives however is exceptionally difficult. The slightest critique is perceived to be in bad taste. For example, Byock stated: "I think, unfortunately, while not being coerced, she's being exploited by Compassion & Choices, as well as by the media's insatiable appetite for sensationalism. And I think that's a tragedy. I worry what will happen if she--her life still feels worth living on November 1. Will she then feel compelled to end her life in order to meet the public's expectations? I really worry this woman who is vulnerable and going through a wrenching time in life. And I--frankly, I wish her all the best". Like Byock, I wish Maynard the best. I cannot state this emphatically enough. I do, however, object to the blatant political actions of Compassion and Choices and exploitation of Maynard on the part of People magazine.

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