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.

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Better off dead? What Peter Singer doesn't get about disability and euthanasia

Alex Schadenberg

Alex Schadenberg

By Alex Schadenberg, International Chair, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Last week Peter Singer, the bioethicist from Princeton University debated Anthony Fisher the Archbishop of Sydney Australia. Singer, who has published books supporting euthanasia, assisted suicide and infanticide, faced strong criticism from the disability rights community.

Today, Craig Wallace, the convenor of Lives Worth Living, a disability advocacy group speaking out about euthanasia and eugenics, and is the president of People with Disability Australia (PWDA), was published by Crickey with an article explaining why the disability rights movement opposes Singer's philosophy and why they oppose euthanasia and assisted suicide.

Wallace explains:

If proponents of voluntary euthanasia were looking to reassure us that legalised suicide would, in fact, be voluntary and not about people with disabilities, they chose the wrong standard bearer. Singer is consistently on the record supporting infanticide of babies with certain disabilities. In his book Practical Ethics, Singer argues the case for selective infanticide. He believes it unfair that:  
“At present parents can choose to keep or destroy their disabled offspring only if the disability happens to be detected during pregnancy. There is no logical basis for restricting parents’ choice to these particular disabilities. If disabled newborn infants were not regarded as having a right to life until, say, a week or a month after birth it would allow parents, in consultation with their doctors, to choose on the basis of far greater knowledge of the infant’s condition than is possible before birth.” 
Singer may not be “poised, needle in hand” ready to plunge it into the arm of the nearest disabled person. It is, nonetheless, difficult to stick to topic when a person who thinks it might have been a good idea to “destroy” you as a child offers you a whisky shot glass and a pistol in latter days. Forgive us for having trust issues.

Wallace challenges the euthanasia lobby that if euthanasia is mean't to be truly voluntary and not about disability, why don't they define the laws in that way?

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Disability Activists Urge Princeton University to Denounce Professor Peter Singer’s Comments and Call for His Resignation

This Press Release was published on the Not Dead Yet website.
[For a PDF formatted version of this press release, go here.]
Princeton, NJ (PRWEB) June 09, 2015

Disability rights activists from Pennsylvania Not Dead Yet and New Jersey centers for independent living, as well as groups representing parents of people with disabilities, will be marching to Princeton University and holding a protest on June 10, 2015. Activists want Princeton to publicly denounce recent statements by Professor Peter Singer, promoting ending the lives of disabled infants through denial of health care, and for Princeton to take other steps to address what the activists describe as Singer’s “hate speech” toward disabled people.

“Since about 1980, Singer has promoted public policy that would legalize the killing of disabled infants in the first month of life,” said Stephen Drake, Not Dead Yet’s research analyst and expert on Singer. “More recently, he has expanded his position in the context of health care rationing.”

In 2009, the New York Times Magazine published an article by Singer titled ‘Why We Must Ration Health Care.’ In the article Singer spoke hypothetically of assigning a life with quadriplegia as roughly half that of a life without any disability at all. On this basis, Singer laid out a case for denying health care to people with significant disabilities on the basis that these lives have less value than the lives of nondisabled people. A response signed by 20 disability rights organizations was submitted to the magazine, criticizing the decision to seek out Singer as an analyst of healthcare and for the specific content of the article.

“This was probably Peter Singer’s most direct assault on the value of the lives of people with physical disabilities past the age of infancy,” said Drake.

On April 26, 2015 on “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio,” Singer again rationalized the killing of disabled infants. Three days later, the National Council on Disability, a council appointed by the U.S. President to provide advice on disability policy, issued a press statement on Singer’s comments during the show. According to the NCD release:

Singer told Klein that health care rationing is already happening, and surmised that hospitals routinely make decisions not based on need, but rather on cost. He then used the presumed practice to rationalize the killing of disabled infants by arguing in support of “non-voluntary euthanasia” for human beings who Singer contends are not capable of understanding the choice between life and death, including “severely disabled infants, and people who through accident, illness, or old age have permanently lost the capacity to understand the issue involved.”

In addition, Not Dead Yet issued a petition to Princeton through change.org.

“We understand the importance of academic freedom,” said Alan Holdsworth of Not Dead Yet Pennsylvania. “But Princeton has a policy on ‘Respect for Others’ which ‘deplores expressions of hatred directed against any individual or group.’ If Singer’s comments about killing disabled babies don’t qualify as hatred toward a group, then I don’t know what does.”

Protesters are demanding that Princeton take four actions to address Singer’s comments:

  • Call for Singer’s resignation.
  • Publicly denounce Singer’s comments.
  • Hire a bioethicist from the disability community in a comparable position to provide a platform for views that contrast with his.
  • Create a disability policy program at Princeton to educate future leaders on an inclusive community.

Schuklenk promotes euthanasia for newborns with disabilities and infanticide

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Udo Schuklenk, who was the chair of the one-sided Royal Society of Canada: End of Life Decision Making panel, is now proselytizing his philosophy (or Peter Singer's philosophy) promoting euthanasia for newborns and infanticide. Schuklenk uses quality-of-life arguments to support his eugenic philosophy to encourage the killing of newborns with disabilities.

In an article published in The Journal of Thoracie and Cardiovascular Surgery, titled: Physicians can justifiably euthanize certain severely impaired neonates, Schuklenk argues that some lives are not worth living and that parents should have the right to decide to end the lives of newborns with disabilities. Schuklenk states:

A quality-of-life ethic requires us to focus on a neonate's current and future quality of life as relevant decision-making criteria. We would ask questions such as: Does this baby have capacity for development to an extent that will allow him or her to have a life and not merely be alive? If we reach the conclusion that it would not, we would have reason to conclude that his life is not worth living.

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