Lawyer who lives with cerebral palsy comments on assisted suicide

The following is the speech by Martin Benton, a lawyer who lives with Cerebral Palsy, on the issue of assisted suicide.

Martin Benton

Martin Benton

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.

Link to the full article

Assisted Suicide: “No amount of safeguarding will ever be enough”

The following article was published on the blog of the disability rights group Scope in the UK.

Juliet Marlow

Juliet Marlow

Juliet Marlow, a disability rights campaigner and member of Not Dead Yet UK, explains why she is against legalising assisted suicide.

"I want support to live, not to die!"

By Juliet Marlow

Lord Falconer’s Private Member’s Bill proposing the legalisation of doctor-assisted suicide (AS) for those with six months or less to live will receive its third reading in the House of Lords today, Friday 16 January.

This isn’t the first time the matter has been debated. Every few years somebody will make the proposal only for it to be nervously put aside. But this time feels different. Despite its controversial nature it seems the idea has somehow caught public imagination and there is a very real chance that this time it could become law.

My name is Juliet. I’m 44, married, a PhD student and freelance writer. I sing in a rock/pop band and mostly love my life. I have been disabled since I was four; I use a wheelchair and rely on PAs to assist me with pretty much everything. I am also passionately opposed to the legalisation of AS.

On the surface, AS doesn’t look that unreasonable. People know that sick and disabled people have had to fight hard for control of our own lives so naturally they assume we want to control our deaths too.

Link to the full article

Media Advisory: Disability Advocates Prepared To Oppose Flurry of State Assisted Suicide Bills Being Introduced in 2015

Rochester, NY (PRWEB) January 15, 2015

Disability rights advocates are preparing to work in broad coalition with medical and other groups that oppose legalization of assisted suicide, as proponents announce plans to introduce bills in several states in the wake of Brittany Maynard’s tragic death. Representatives of Not Dead Yet, the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund and Second Thoughts are available for interviews.

Marilyn Golden

Marilyn Golden

Brittany Maynard's personal story has ignited the debate around assisted suicide legalization. Most recently, Maynard's husband appeared in an interview alongside the president of Compassion & Choices, formerly the Hemlock Society, to push legalization.

Disability advocates are deeply sympathetic to all people with a terminal illness, facing the difficulties that lie ahead. Legalization of assisted suicide can look acceptable and safe when the focus is solely on one individual. However, a closer examination of the issue reveals the immense harm legalization poses to vulnerable people, the elderly and society as a whole.

“If these bills pass, some people’s lives will be ended without their consent, through mistakes and abuse,” said Marilyn Golden, senior policy analyst with the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund. “No safeguards have ever been enacted or proposed that can prevent this outcome, which can never be undone.”

Assisted suicide legislation was defeated last year in New Hampshire, Connecticut and Massachusetts by a broad coalition of disability rights organizations, medical associations and professionals, palliative care specialists, hospice workers and right to life groups. Similar coalitions are forming in many states in 2015 to oppose assisted suicide bills.

The following individuals are disability rights advocates who are experts and active on the issue of assisted suicide and able to speak on the record.

Marilyn Golden
Senior Policy Analyst
Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund (DREDF)
Berkeley, CA
(510) 703-0696

John B. Kelly
Second Thoughts
Boston, MA
(617) 536-5140

Diane Coleman
Not Dead Yet
Rochester, NY
(708) 420-0539

Link to more information.

Scotland may kill assisted suicide bill in committee.

By Alex Schadenberg, International Chair - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition


The Edinburgh News is reporting that the Scottish assisted suicide bill may die in the Health and Sport committee. The hearings will begin on January 13.

The group - Doctors for assisted suicide are concerned that too many groups opposing assisted suicide have been invited to present to the government committee. The Edinburgh News reported that: 

Duncan McNeil MSP, the convener of the health and sport committee, said it would consider all evidence placed before it and give it equal weight.

When reading Scotland's assisted suicide bill it is clear that the language of the bill will kill.

Section 1 of the bill says:

Link to full article.

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:

Link to the full article.

Scotland assisted suicide bill discriminates against people with disabilities.

By Dr Kevin Fitzpatrick OBE, Spokesperson - Not Dead Yet UK

Kevin Fitzpatrick

Kevin Fitzpatrick

An online news service has claimed that Scotland is set to introduce the ‘most robust’ assisted suicide legislation yet (Sputnik, Dec 29, 2014). Nonsense.

Scotland’s previous attempts at legalising someone else to intervene in another’s death by causing that dying person’s final end, have been amongst the weakest, most flawed to appear in any legislature.

The current Bill is just as bad as any seen in Scotland previously. It continues to include ‘people with progressive life-shortening conditions’ – thus it exposes pretty nearly every significantly disabled person to the threats inherent in it. It sets a 14 day limit from decision to death: a perilously thin time in which to detect and treat depression. It removes any question of crimes being committed in ‘assisting’ or pressing someone to commit suicide – as long as the assister claims ‘I acted out of compassion’ they will be free of investigation. But saying does not make it so. 

The Bill contains all the other flaws of proposed and in other jurisdictions, enacted laws. The simple truth is that we can never legislate in advance for ‘pure compassion’ because there is no such thing, even in well-meaning people who give assistance. It is no more robust than any other law, proposed or already in force. And it is disingenuous to pretend otherwise.

The lie is that there will be ‘safeguards’. The overwhelming evidence from around the world is that such laws do exactly the opposite of what their proponents claim: it removes choice from patients, placing it in the hands of the minority of doctors who are willing to move from protecting life to furnishing the means to take it.

Link to full article.

A Right to Euthanasia?

By John Keown

John Keown

John Keown

Yesterday, the Supreme Court of Canada heard oral argument in a landmark case. Its decision will have ramifications south of the border and well beyond.

The question in Carter v. Attorney General of Canada is whether there is a right under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to voluntary, active euthanasia (VAE) and physician-assisted suicide (PAS). Do patients have a right to lethal injections and lethal prescriptions? The case is largely a rerun of Rodriguez v. British Columbia, a 1993 case in which the Canadian Supreme Court held (5-4) that there is no right to physician-assisted suicide under the Charter.

Link to the full article