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

Commentary: Why disabled people like me fear assisted suicide

This article was published by Syracuse.com on November 6, 2015. The disability rights group, Not Dead Yet also republished this article.

Stephanie Woodward

Stephanie Woodward

By Stephanie Woodward

Having been born with a physical disability, I am all too familiar with the overwhelming number of people who feel that decisions should be made for me, not by me. I know the tactics used to coerce disabled people into doing what someone else thinks is best because they've been used on me. I am well aware of the "ableist'' notions that society holds – that having a disability is a tragedy, that we're a waste of resources and a burden on society, and that we're "brave" to live with our disabilities (which essentially means that most people would rather die than be "brave" and live with a disability like me).

We're often regarded as incapable of making our own decisions and unworthy of respect. However, when one disabled person announces they want to die, they're lauded in the press and on social media. Sara Myers, for example, has Lou Gehrig's disease and has received a slew of media attention for wanting assisted suicide because she began to experience disability. Media focused on Myers's use of a wheelchair and her need for assistance in showering and toileting to demonstrate why assisted suicide should be available to her. For full disclosure, I use a wheelchair and have needed assistance with both showering and toileting in my life, and I expect I'll need more assistance as I age. I take it very personally when media and society lists these as valid reasons to want to die.

Link to the full article

A disabled man's plea to Canada's new Prime Minister about Assisted Suicide

Mark Pickup

Mark Pickup

This letter was written by Mark Pickup and published on his blog on October 31, 2015

The Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau
Prime Minister of Canada
House of Commons
OTTAWA, Ontario K1A 0A6

Dear Prime Minister:

Supreme Court ruling for assisted suicide

I am writing to plead with you to invoke the notwithstanding clause ofthe Canadian Charter of Rights and freedoms and override the monstrous Supreme Court decision to strike down the nation’s law against assisted suicide. It will be consistent with your previous support for a National Suicide Prevention Strategy that received unanimous support of Parliament in October of 2012. The high court’s odious decision threatens to set back advances in disability inclusion forty years that I and others have fought hard to gain.

I have been incurably ill with aggressive multiple sclerosis (MS) for more than thirty years. Its degenerative nature gradually stripped me of physical function from being healthy and athletic to living in an electric wheelchair. If assisted suicide had been available during the mid-1980s I might have opted for it at a low point. I’m so glad I did not seek out a Jack Kevorkian. I never would have known my grandchildren. You see, Prime Minister, quality of life changes. What gave my life quality in 1984 is not what gives my life quality in 2015. Physical function is not so important to me anymore; it is love that brings quality to my life now: To love and be loved. 

You did the right thing in 2012 by supporting a national suicide prevention strategy. Do the right thing again and invoke the notwithstanding clause, even though it will be unpopular. A national suicide prevention strategy must be for all Canadians, not just the healthy. Support increased emphasis on palliative medicine in medical schools and nursing programs across the country.

Thank you for reading and considering my letter. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.

I am, Sir,
Yours very truly,
Mark Davis Pickup

Dutch Doctor Sued for Saying No to Euthanasia

This article was published on Wesley Smith's blog on September 27, 2015.

By Wesley Smith 

Wesley Smith

Wesley Smith

I have been warning (with increasing intensity) about a pending medical martyrdom–forcing doctors to choose between killing and continuing in their profession–both from the contexts of statutory law and professional discipline.

Now, in the Netherlands, we see a doctor reported to the medical board–essentially for malpractice–for recommending against a euthanasia killing.

Milou de Moor had lupus and depression. She wanted euthanasia. Apparently receiving permission, the killing was called off because her GP didn’t agree, and she subsequently killed herself. 

From the PZC story story (Google translation): 

The good news was that the euthanasia of Milou was approved by the Ethics Committee. 

Note the culture of death’s insidious mutation of society and culture–the killing of a 19 year-old called “good news.”

Link to the full article

It is still right to oppose euthanasia

This article was published by the Prince Arthur Herald on May 7, 2015.

By Professor Ian Dowbiggin

Ian Dowbiggin

Ian Dowbiggin

I applaud the Prince Arthur Herald for publishing Stuart Chambers’s attack on me and all others who oppose the legalization of physician-assisted suicide (PAS) or mercy-killing. The PAH’s commitment to open debate is admirable and should serve as a beacon to other media outlets in a day and age when it is more important than ever to speak clearly and concretely about the circumstances surrounding end-of-life care in today’s society.

Too often, the debate has been dominated by heart-rending, human-interest stories in the mainstream media about people in pain. What has been missing is plain talk and clear language.

I should know. I have spent the last fifteen years studying and publishing on the history of the euthanasia movement. That history includes the story of now-defunct organizations which paved the way for today’s Compassion and Choices, the leading North American group in favor of permitting assisted suicide. So Chambers’s attack on me is something I’m used to.

He is right about one thing: Based on my empirical studies, I have occasionally warned that, if our courts and other interest groups get their way, Canada will soon embrace the belief that some lives are not as valuable as others. Put another way: that some lives are more worthy of death than others.

One thing I have learned is that, historically speaking, the most vocal advocates of assisted suicide and other forms of euthanasia would not be happy until they could get society to accept the killing of people with a wide range of disabilities, with or without their consent.

Link to the full article

Assisted suicide: doctors should think twice before signing on

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Dr Paul McHugh

Dr Paul McHugh

Dr Paul McHugh, wrote a response to the recent push by the assisted suicide lobby to legalize assisted suicide, in an article that was published in the Wall Street Journal.

McHugh, a former psychiatrist in chief at Johns Hopkins Hospital, points out that legalizing assisted suicide has gained some momentum, that previous momentum was crushed.

With backing from financier George Soros —a longtime supporter of “right to die” legislation—proponents are intent on expanding beyond Oregon, Vermont and Washington the roster of states where the practice is legal. Legislation to allow assisted suicide is moving through New Jersey’s statehouse, last month a New York legislator vowed to introduce a similar bill, and in California state Sens. Bill Monning and Lois Wolk are working to legalize the practice. 
... often in fights for good ideas, the bad ones—even when crushingly defeated, as when Michigan sent Kevorkian to prison in 1999—sidle back into the ring and you have to thrash them again.

McHugh points out that historically, assisted suicide has been pushed back:

Link to the full article.

The Historical Kevorkian

By Wesley Smith

Wesley Smith

Wesley Smith

I am often asked for interviews by students who are writing papers about the assisted suicide issue. I am always happy to oblige. Most ask why I oppose assisted suicide and whether I think guidelines can prevent the slippery slope. But, the other day, I was contacted by a high-schooler writing a paper about something I had never considered: the historical significance of Jack Kevorkian.

Having cut my anti-euthanasia advocacy teeth during Kevorkian’s assisted suicide spree in the 1990s, I was deeply involved in opposing everything he represented. But until I received this interview request, I had never considered what his legacy might be.

It is too soon to answer what, if any, historical significance Kevorkian will have. I hope none. If we are a moral society in one hundred years, he will be remembered—if he is remembered at all—as a crass social outlaw, operating at a time of cultural hesitancy, who preyed upon the despairing in pursuit of his own nihilistic ends. But there’s a chance we will not be a moral society. So, I did my best to put on my “objective hat” and give the most dispassionate answer I could.

Here is part of what I wrote:

Link to the full article.