Friday, June 8, 2007

Not Dead Yet :: Testimony to House of Representatives on Assisted Suicide..

A must read from Not Dead Yet if you truly believe in hearing all sides of the story: April 29, 1996, Testimony Before the Constitution Subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives..

Just spent the better part of several hours writing and rewriting thoughts on, among other things, a potential scientific study regarding the whoosy-whats-its of how people are swaying on the topic of assisted suicide slash euthanasia.. Then it crossed my Mind, "Need to check the Internet to see what may have been done recently.." Duh.

Seconds into the search, there's Georgia Right To Life front and center with a nice long page from this side of the assisted suicide slash euthanasia debate.. Really like the following from them (that may also be from elsewhere, btw):

WHAT ABOUT THOSE WITH SEVERE DISABILITIES?

What would this thinking say about our attitude as a society? On the one hand, we tell those who have neither terminal illness nor a disability, "You say you want to be killed, but what you really need is counseling and assistance." On the other hand, we tell those with disabilities, "We understand why you want to be killed, and we'll let a doctor kill you"? It would certainly not mean that we were respecting the "choice" of a person with the disability. Instead, we would be discriminatorily denying suicide counseling on the basis of disability. We would be saying to the non-disabled person, "We care too much about you to let you throw you life away." To the person with the disability we would be saying, "We agree that life with a disability is not worth living."

Most people with disabilities will tell you that it is not so much their physical or mental impairment itself that makes their lives difficult, as it is the conduct of the non-disabled majority toward them. Denial of access, discrimination in employment, and an attitude of aversion or pity instead of respect are what make life intolerable. True respect for the rights of people with disabilities would dictate action to remove those obstacles, not "help" in committing suicide.

A large part of what I was working through in my original post went something very much like the following from the testimony in front of the House of Representatives:

But, particularly in the absence of a constitutional right to physician care, a right to physician-assisted suicide is not the answer. While a few may have all the options that money can buy and choose the final solution with complete understanding and freedom, the majority who are offered this option are people that society is all too ready to abandon as too costly and unproductive- -people who can only depend on the protection of the law. The depth and breadth of this abandonment is only understood by those who live it everyday.

Testimony talking points that you must PLEASE keep in mind as this continues to pick up speed over the next little while:

  1. People with disabilities do not have adequate protection from either the courts or disability organizations.
  2. People with disabilities and incurable chronic diseases have experienced a long history of persecution and genocide.
  3. Assisted suicide will not remain confined to the imminently dying.
  4. Assisted suicide enthusiasts have reinforced public prejudice and fear regarding disability.
  5. As long as people with disabilities are disenfranchised and treated as unwelcome and costly burdens on society, assisted suicide is forced "choice."
  6. The great majority of problems that lead people with disabilities, chronic conditions, and even terminal illnesses to seek hastened deaths are remediable through other means, such as assisted independent living outside of nursing homes, sophisticated pain management, death counseling for individuals and families, augmentative communication technology, hospice support, etc.
  7. Physicians must not be given the power to decide who lives and who is escorted to death.
  8. The 2nd Circuit Court decision illustrates the logic that propels us down the slippery slope to endangerment.
  9. In fact, people with disabilities have already been endangered by relaxation of laws and policies protecting their lives.
  10. Many proponents of physician-assisted suicide have expressed the belief that adequate safeguards can be adopted to protect vulnerable people from various forms of pressure and abuse if the practice is legalized in conformance with the 2nd and 9th Circuit court opinions.
  11. Assisted suicide is discriminatory. As a policy, it singles out ill and disabled people as fitting subjects for dying.
  12. Assisted suicide is classist. Author's Note: I said big, bad words just now as I saw this one.. This was exactly where I was coming from in my two-hours of work earlier.. EXACTLY.. Had to do with a quick one-line comment I left over at The Liberty Papers.. Calling the similarities "eery" is putting it mildly.
  13. There is virtually no research on suicide and suicidal wishes in people with disabilities.
  14. People with disabilities and incurable illnesses deserve the same social supports and commitment to suicide intervention as any other citizen.
  15. Women with disabilities will be particularly endangered by the legalization of assisted suicide.
  16. People with disabilities in our country are increasingly caught in a perilous bind.

There is substantial elaboration regarding each talking point, again, there at Not Dead Yet's website..

Going out on this note, which is what brought me to the above (and that I haven't tracked back to the original just yet):

Specifically, according to a Dutch governmental report in 1990, 5,941 persons were given lethal injections without consent. Of those, 1,474 were fully competent, according to their physicians.

Sweet, peaceful dreams..

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