Action Alert: Protest Disability Snuff Film “Me Before You”!


ACTION ALERT: 

PROTEST DISABILITY SNUFF FILM ME BEFORE YOU! 

WHEN: JUNE 3, 2016, 0NE HOUR BEFORE A SHOWING OF ME BEFORE YOU
WHERE: YOUR LOCAL MOVIE THEATER, MANY CITIES, USA & WORLDWIDE
WHAT: PEACEFULLY DISTRIBUTE A LEAFLET (TO BE POSTED ON NDY WEBSITE) 
WHY: TO OPPOSE ABLEISM & THE FILM’S MESSAGE THAT DISABLED PEOPLE ARE
BETTER OFF DEAD (AND OTHERS ARE BETTER OFF WITHOUT US) 

“Me Before You” is the latest Hollywood blockbuster to grossly misrepresent the lived experience of the majority of disabled people. In the film, a young man becomes disabled, falls in love with his ‘carer’ and they have an incredible 6 months together. Despite her opposition, however, our hero does the “honorable” thing by killing himself at the Swiss assisted suicide clinic Dignitas – so she can move on and he is no longer a burden to her. Based on the best-selling novel of the same name, “Me Before You” is little more than a disability snuff film, giving audiences the message that if you’re a disabled person, you’re better off dead. 

WAYS YOU CAN PROTEST:

  • Two or more people can peacefully hand out a leaflet that will be posted on the Not Dead Yet website at notdeadyet.org
  • Send a press release or use NDY’s release (coming soon) to send to your local media. 
  • Join the worldwide social media Thunderclap
  • Twitter using #MeBeforeYou #LiveBoldly #MeBeforeEuthanasia #MeBeforeAbleism 
  • Share the articles linked below with friends and colleagues. 

For more information, see the following articles: 

For More Information or to discuss your plans, contact John Kelly (jkelly@notdeadyet.org) or Diane Coleman (dcoleman@notdeadyet.org).

Not Dead Yet (NDY) Celebrating 20 Years in the Fight for Our Lives

This article was published by Not Dead Yet on April 26, 2016.

Dear Disability Rights Supporter:

Twenty years ago, on April 27th, at a disability rights gathering in Dallas, Bob Kafka, one of the leaders of ADAPT, said to me, “I’ve got a name for your group.” For years, ADAPT had been supportive of disability advocacy to challenge the assisted suicide movement and other deadly forms of medical discrimination. With the increasing popularity of “Dr. Death” Jack Kevorkian, whose body count was mainly people with disabilities who were not terminally ill, there had been growing talk of a street action group like ADAPT to address this critical threat to our lives. So, from a running gag in the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Bob suggested “Not Dead Yet.” On that day, as over 40 disability rights leaders from across the country signed onto Congressional Subcommittee testimony co-authored by Carol Gill and myself, Not Dead Yet (NDY) began.

The struggle against assisted suicide was about to take a dramatic turn. On June 21, 1996, NDY activists held our first direct action, picketing outside the Michigan cottage where Kevorkian was known to stay. The AP newswire carried a photo of the protest, the first media notice of our opposition. Three years later, when Jack Kevorkian was finally back in a Michigan courtroom, on trial for one of his self-confessed assisted killings, disabled activists appeared for the first time to call for the equal protection of the law, to demand that the court and jury “Jail Jack,” and to declare before the court and the public at large that we were “Not Dead Yet.”

The presence of disabled activists at this fifth Kevorkian trial finally led to a murder conviction, and announced to the world the movement of disabled people against the legalization of assisted suicide and euthanasia.

Link to the full article

Diane Coleman: Opposing the New York assisted suicide bill

This article represents one side of the debate between Diane Coleman, the founder of the disability rights group, Not Dead Yet and Dr Timothy Quill, a long-time supporter of assisted suicide that waspublished in the Democrat and Chronicle on February 18, 2016.

Diane Coleman: Opposing the aid in dying bill

“I think there is a very strong alliance of different segments of society that are really concerned about the danger of legalizing assisted suicide from the culture we have today,” Coleman said. “Policy makers have to really consider not only the idealized case that proponents put forward on assisted suicide but the real danger that affects so many elderly, ill and disabled people in this society and be sure that the protection that current law offers are still in place to benefit everyone.”

What are the main concerns of people who are opposed to aid-in-dying legislation?

I don’t think I speak for all (opponents), but the disability community's core message is that if assisted suicide is legal, some people’s lives will be lost due to mistakes, coercion and abuse, and that’s an outcome that can never be undone. 
There’s inherent discrimination in assisted-suicide laws. Most suicidal people receive suicide prevention. Assisted suicide laws would carve out an exception to that, and that exception would apply to people who are elderly, ill, disabled, and those are devalued groups in society. ... Assisted-suicide laws would say, 'these certain people, we’ll not only agree with their suicide but give them the means to carry it out.' We’re saying it comes down to social justice. Equal rights means equal suicide prevention.

Isn’t this a matter of the individual’s right to choose?

We agree that people have the right to refuse life-sustaining treatment. We do think it’s important that that be based on informed consent, that there be protections against health care providers that overrule people who want treatment. We’re also concerned about (a health care proxy) decision being based on the choice of what the person would want if the person were able to speak for themselves. 
You should have the choice to get all the pain relief that you need in order to not have any physical pain. You should have the choice to get all the home care you need so you don’t have to feel like a burden on your family or friends. 
People do have the choice to commit suicide because suicide and assisted suicide are not exactly the same. It’s the discrimination that’s inherent in assisted suicide that is our concern. But assisted suicide needs to remain illegal because of all the dangers the public policy of assisted-suicide creates of mistake, coercion and abuse. We think everyone deserves suicide prevention no matter how old, no matter how ill, no matter how disabled.

Link to the full article

Statement of Not Dead Yet (USA) to Canadian Panel on Carter Case Decision

Submitted by

Diane Coleman, J.D., M.B.A., President/CEO

Stephen Drake, M.S., Research Analyst

Not Dead Yet

497 State Street Rochester, New York 14608 USA

October 14, 2015

This statement was originally published by Not Dead Yet on their website.

Executive Summary

Not Dead Yet is a national, grassroots disability rights group that opposes legalization of assisted suicide and euthanasia as deadly forms of discrimination against old, ill and disabled people. Not Dead Yet helps organize and articulate opposition to these practices in the United States based on secular social justice arguments. Not Dead Yet also demands the equal protection of the law for the targets of so called “mercy killing” whose lives are seen as worth-less.

This submission to the External Panel on Options for a Legislative Response to Carter v. Canadawill focus on the Panel’s “key issue” in Terms of Reference Section 3.2 (c): “Risks to individuals and society associated with physician-assisted dying.” We will discuss the evidence coming from Oregon, the earliest of the four U.S. states to legalize assisted suicide, and outline the concerns of the disability community.

Regardless of our abilities or disabilities, none of us should feel that we have to die to have dignity, that we have to die to be relieved of pain, or that we should die to stop burdening our families or society. The realities of assisted suicide implementation in Oregon and three other U.S. states demonstrate the urgency of limiting the harms done by the Canadian Supreme Court ruling.

With that goal, we have two recommendations:

Adopt the detailed Goals, Principles and Recommendations submitted by the Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD),[1] which demonstrate a well-informed, evidence based and reasoned approach to reducing the dangers that will inevitably flow from implementation of Carter v. Canada. In order to completely incorporate CCD’s recommendations, direct consultation with a representative of CCD in drafting the legislation is necessary.

Provide training, guidance and encouragement to law enforcement agencies to exercise their existing level of authority to prosecute physicians and others involved in an assisted suicide or euthanasia death, while allowing those prosecuted to defend themselves by proving that the guidelines submitted by the Council of Canadians with Disabilities were met.

Introduction

Not Dead Yet is a national, grassroots disability rights group that opposes legalization of assisted suicide and euthanasia as deadly forms of discrimination against old, ill and disabled people. Not Dead Yet helps organize and articulate opposition to these practices in the United States based on secular social justice arguments. Not Dead Yet also demands the equal protection of the law for the targets of so called “mercy killing” whose lives are seen as worth-less.

This submission to the External Panel on Options for a Legislative Response to Carter v. Canada will focus on the Panel’s “key issue” in Terms of Reference Section 3.2 (c): “Risks to individuals and society associated with physician-assisted dying.”

Link to the full article

Not Dead Yet Denounces California Governor’s decision to sign Assisted Suicide Bill

This article was published by Not Dead Yet on October 5, 2015.

Diane Coleman

Diane Coleman

By Diane Coleman, the President and CEO of the disability right group Not Dead Yet.

Today, NDY was devastated and disgusted to learn that California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law the assisted suicide bill that proponents rammed through a “special” session of the legislature convened to address the state’s Medicaid budget.

Governor Brown’s message accompanying his action states that he “carefully read” materials from opponents such as “those who champion disability rights,” but he nevertheless seems to have missed key facts.

For one, he says that “the crux of the matter is whether the State of California should continue to make it a crime for a dying person to end his life . . ..” Suicide is not a crime under California law (nor in other states), but assisted suicide proponents love to confuse people about that. The crime is when physicians and other third parties, such as the individual’s heirs, assist in suicide.

When confronted with that fact, proponents then often argue that old, ill and disabled people need help to commit suicide, which is another falsehood. As proponents promote on their website, any old, ill or disabled person can already commit suicide legally and peacefully in any state. So it is not a crime for a dying person to end his or her life peacefully, and Governor Brown’s stated “crux of the matter” is therefore mistaken.

Near the end of his short statement, Governor Brown said:

“In the end, I was left to reflect on what I would want in the face of my own death. 
I do not know what I would do if I were dying in prolonged and excruciating pain.”

This reveals that he didn’t really learn very much about the advances in palliative care when it comes to physical pain. At this point in time, palliative care physicians are able to relieve physical pain, even if that may in some instances require palliative sedation. Some people may feel that they don’t want to be made unconscious to relieve pain, but that’s a psycho-social issue. The implication that assisted suicide is needed to relieve physical pain is mistaken.

The Governor’s stated reasons are based on fallacies and his action must be denounced. When held up alongside the factually based and well considered reasons that disability rights organizations oppose legalization of assisted suicide – mistaken prognoses, insurance denials, family coercion and abuse, among others – his failure to veto the bill amounts to a breach of his duty to protect all Californians, not just the privileged few who can count on high quality health care and the support of a loving family.

Not Dead Yet and Five Other National Disability Groups File Friend of the Court Brief in New Mexico Supreme Court in Assisted Suicide Case

Diane Coleman, President Not Dead Yet

Diane Coleman, President Not Dead Yet

This Press Release was published by Not Dead Yet on October 1, 2015.

[The October 1, 2015 press release below is also available online in PDF format through PRWeb here. The friend-of-the-court brief described in the release can be read here.]

Press Release

On September 30, 2015, Not Dead Yet and five other national disability rights organizations filed a friend-of-the-court in the New Mexico Supreme Court in support of the State Attorney General’s request that the state’s high court uphold a Court of Appeals ruling that physician assisted suicide is not a right under the state constitution. Joining in the Not Dead Yet brief are ADAPT, Autistic Self Advocacy Network, the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund, the National Council on Independent Living and United Spinal, collectively referred to as the “Disability Amici.”

The case is Morris v. Brandenburg (S. Ct. No. 35,478) and the disability brief supports the Court of Appeals ruling, which was issued August 11, 2015 (Court of Appeals Case No. 33,630), and the State Attorney General, who is seeking to uphold the appellate ruling.

According to the brief filed in the New Mexico Supreme Court, “State-sanctioned assisted suicide degrades the value and worth of people with disabilities and violates the antidiscrimination rights, protections and mandates of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et seq.”

“Our basic position is that when some people get suicide prevention while other people get suicide assistance, and the difference is the person’s age, disability or health status, that’s a problem,” said Not Dead Yet’s president and CEO, Diane Coleman.

The dissent in the Court of Appeals decision that is the subject of the appeal to the state Supreme Court noted that the State Attorney General did not call witnesses or submit evidence of alleged any abuses in Oregon and Washington state where assisted suicide is legal. In their Supreme Court brief, the Disability Amici urge that, if the Court is not prepared to simply uphold the Court of Appeals at this stage, the Court should remand the case and allow one or more of the disability groups to assist the Attorney General or intervene as defendants in the case to ensure a full hearing of facts that were allegedly omitted in the original trial court.

Not Dead Yet's letter to Governor Jerry Brown Urging Veto of Assisted Suicide Bill

Ed Roberts with Governor Jerry Brown

Ed Roberts with Governor Jerry Brown

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.

Link to the full article