Assisted Death and Disability 3/3


Coercion is a major concern. Elder abuse and disability abuse are both common. Disabled people are already killed by others, most often their family and caregivers, at astonishing rates. We have to hold a Day of Mourning each year to remember our dead. For nearly every murder of a disabled person, there are numerous articles calling that murder “mercy”. Because surely disability is a fate worse than death, just like those ” right to die ” folks said.

The physicians abled advocates and legislators have appointed gatekeepers of assisted death are usually abled themselves. They fall prey to the same errors in imagination as others, only with fatal consequence. Doctors greatly underestimate the quality of disabled lives, based on their faulty beliefs and not based on how disabled people report quality of life. What’s more, the major inhibitors to a higher quality of living for disabled people are socially imposed, like poverty level disability benefits and ableist exclusion.

I think it’s also worth contemplating who should pay for assisted death if we’re going to have it. Should insurance companies be required to cover it? What happens if death is cheaper than life saving treatment? Should the government foot the bill, and be trusted not to engage in the same racial bias it does on death row? What about if it’s an individual expense? Won’t that make “dignity” a consumer good only some can afford?

In a country where we are already being killed and our killers are already receiving more sympathy than our dead, I think assisted suicide is a solution in search of a problem. The suffering disabled people experience is caused by bigotry – by disgust at adult diapers, by refusal to hire disabled employees, by making disabled people feel so guilty for being burdens they kill themselves to please you. Our bodies are not why we seek death; ableism is.

I will never support laws that make exceptions for the killing of me and mine, laws dreamed up and drafted by people who are not themselves disabled. “Mercy killing” of disabled people was quite literally how Hitler started his program of mass extermination. The very first person to die for the sake of Nazi “purity” was a young boy, whose farther wrote to the Führer asking for a solution to his burden.

Include disabled people in every facet of life, from the classroom to the workplace to politics to medical ethics. Raise disability benefits to comfortable levels. Incorporate usability and universal design in all spaces. Provide adequate personal aids and home health nurses to allow for supported independent living. Require insurance companies to cover diapers and other products that promote dignity. These are the solutions disabled people need. Not death. Dignity.

One thought on “Assisted Death and Disability 3/3

  1. I’ve experienced what’s it’s like to feel like my life is nothing, but then find new ways to enjoy life and want to keep living. I haven’t been challenged to find enjoyment in life the way some people have, but I have come back from “the edge”. People, whether supporters of assisted suicide or not, judge the worth of other peoples’ existence. You might be happy until somebody tells you you have no reason or right to be happy.

    The Young Turks recently reported a case of man being tried for third-degree murder or manslaughter for causing the suicide of his partner through abusive treatment. It led me to do some research into charges of “inciting suicide” and it turns out that incitement of suicide is a serious charge in New Zealand. On the other side you have religious people saying that suicide is the ultimate rejection of God. But religion itself can drive people to suicide. Putting faith in a god then your natural doubts causing you to feel as though life is worthless without the god you put faith in and now doubt. Or perhaps you believe in a god, but hate him/her and want to kill yourself as a rebellious retaliation against that god.

    You’re completely right of course Angie to be concerned about the ways people can use “belief in suicide”. Wanting to die sometimes is very natural for some people and I think people who don’t want to die should learn to sympathize, but then you have people frustratedly saying “Well why don’t you go ahead and do it and spare us all your bitching?”, which isn’t exactly sympathetic. But like you point out Angie, there are also those that are like “God, if I was that person I wouldn’t want to live!”. Ok those might be your true feelings, but hell maybe that person wouldn’t want to be you either? I actually think there is a problem when people impose really tight standards of worth on themselves. I mean in a way it’s better to be tough on yourself before being tough on anyone else, but when you think you’re not good enough because you’re too fat or too skinny or whatever, how do you feel when you come across someone who, according to your standards, is much worse than you? Sometimes being hard on yourself can cause you to be unfairly hard on others too.

    Liked by 1 person

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