DAA News Network

USA: Battle against physician-assisted suicide highlights dangers for disabled people

Posted 27/5-10 at 18.31

Two Connecticut doctors, Gary Blick and Ron Levine, supported by Compassion and Choices, an euthanasia pressure group, are suing the State of Connecticut in order to legalise physician-assisted suicide. Opposition has come from Not Dead Yet, individual disabled people and, most recently the State of Connecticut Office of Protection and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities (OPA).

Cathy Ludlum, wheelchair user, in her living room

Cathy Ludlum

The one positive thing to come out of this case is that it has exposed the extreme perils faced by disabled people if doctors were allowed to assist their patients to die.

For example, Cathy Ludlum, a disabled woman from Manchester, Connecticut, says that misconceptions about people with severe impairments can lead medical staff not to give them every lifesaving option.She tells how when in hospital she heard staff saying what a tragic life she must be leading. Because of such attitudes she says, ‘People like me are at enormous risk when we're in the hospital or otherwise disempowered.'

In his submission to the court, James D. McGaughey, Executive Director of the OPA, writes, ‘...de-criminalizing physician assisted suicide will ...legitimize the view that life with a significant disability is not worth living. This, in turn, will impact perceptions of the general public about disability, and will likely influence individuals with disabilities who are struggling with adjustment issues, who cannot readily access options for independent lifestyles, and who are concerned about burdening family members with cost and care.'

For article about Cathy Ludlum, see: http://www.courant.com/health/hc-hc-right-to-die-disability-0.artmay16,0,7088546.story

For background to the case and submissions (affidavits) from the OPA, see: http://notdeadyetnewscommentary.blogspot.com/search/label/Connecticut




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