Showing posts with label disability. Show all posts
Showing posts with label disability. Show all posts

Monday, August 25, 2014

People with Disabilities at Risk from Assisted Suicide

In its editorial "Death with dignity for the terminally ill proposal includes critical safeguards" (Aug. 10),The Times' assurances that the Death with Dignity for the Terminally Ill Act (A2270) has safeguards is not very reassuring to those of us with disabilities, who see it as dangerous to our lives.

Citing the Oregon and Washington laws as further assurance simply repeats propaganda from proponents. The Oregon law has no protection against coercion used against vulnerable people by those whose motives involve fraud or abuse. Oregon annually destroys data in the doctors’ reports about the deaths allowed by the law, leaving only statistics without investigation, so it is really overreaching to say the law has meaningful protections.

The current legislation in the Statehouse has “protections” that amount to an honor system, providing little comfort to people with severe disabilities. Indeed, whatever protections were seen by The Times are at best a half-hearted attempt by proponents to placate broad-based concerns over this legislation, the assurances of The Times’ editorial board notwithstanding. Unfortunately, these provisions may protect those who assist suicide from any liability for mistakes or abuses, but they do nothing to protect the patient or more vulnerable people with disabilities.

-- Norman A. Smith,

The writer is president of the board of directors of the Hamilton-based Progressive Center for Independent Living and associate executive director of Project Freedom, based in Robbinsville.