The following is the speech by Martin Benton, a lawyer who lives with Cerebral Palsy, on the issue of assisted suicide.
Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you on such an important topic. While I am not representing any particular organization or disability group, it is important that you hear a perspective shared by millions of Americans who live daily with a variety of disabilities.
Although my cerebral palsy makes my speech somewhat difficult to understand at times, some people have observed that my southern accent acquired from growing up in a small rural Georgia town is the real barrier to clearly understanding what I am saying. To make it easier to follow my remarks, I have provided a handout, sans the southern accent. I am not the least bit offended if you find reading along on the handout much easier than listening to what I am saying. What is more important is that you hear from persons with disabilities like me on this topic.
Over a dozen major grassroots disability organizations whose members are self-advocates living with a range of disabilities are on record in strong opposition to the legalization of assisted suicide. These various groups recognize the grave threat that assisted suicide poses to persons with disabilities like me and many others.