[Editor’s Note: The Center for Disability Rights provides the office headquarters for NDY and is a long time supporter of NDY’s mission and work. Earlier this year, CDR led a disability protest in Albany against the first 2015 assisted suicide bill to be introduced, gaining coverage in the Village Voice. Now that proponents for legalizing assisted suicide have declared New York to be their number one target state, CDR wants to hire a staff person in Albany who will focus on defeating this dangerous public policy. Please donate to CDR’s “GoFundMe” project to make this possible. Below is CDR’s request for your urgently needed support.]
Who Are We?
The Center for Disability Rights is a disability-led service and advocacy organization that works for the rights of people with disabilities of all ages to live in the community.
What Do We Want?
Now that California has legalized assisted suicide, assisted suicide proponents have identified New York State as the next battleground for legalizing this awful, deadly practice. The battle will be fought in Albany, and in meetings across the state. We need to hire a person to represent the Disability Community in Albany and across the state. This GoFundMe campaign will help us to hire that person.
Why Oppose Assisted Suicide?
Assisted suicide is a deadly expression of ableism — the belief that people with disabilities are less than non-disabled people. Less worthy of care. Having less dignity. Less worthy of life. These beliefs are all around us. Whether we are old or young, terminal or not terminal, when assisted suicide is legal, these discriminatory beliefs will cause people with disabilities to be killed against their will and without their consent.
How Will The Money Be Used?
We will use the money to hire an advocate who is passionate about defeating assisted suicide in New York. This campaign will pay for the salary and benefits of an advocate, as well as his or her expenses to travel to events around the state; talk about why a public policy of legalizing assisted suicide is dangerous to old, ill, and disabled people; pitch stories to media organizations; and coordinate with other advocates on presenting the disability perspective on assisted suicide to policymakers. The advocate will also work on creating and promoting a public awareness campaign to show a positive vision of living with a disability in the community.
When Do You Need the Money?
We hope to hire this advocate early in January 2016, before the legislative session opens. Accordingly, we have about six weeks to raise the money to pay for their salary and expenses.
Why Does This Matter To You?
This matters to us because it will be our people, people with disabilities, who lose their lives if assisted suicide is legalized are killed. Not every person with a disability has a terminal illness, and doctors are notoriously unreliable in predicting when someone will die. But every person who has a terminal illness has a disability, or will acquire a disability before they die. Where assisted suicide is legal, an heir (someone who stands to inherit from the person) or abusive caregiver may steer someone towards assisted suicide, witness the request, pick up the lethal dose, and even give the drug — no witnesses are required at the death, so who would know? That is discrimination made deadly, and deadly discrimination made legal.
Aren’t You Overstating Your Case?
No. Assisted suicide has been legal in Oregon for seventeen years. Researchers and the mainstream media identified multiple cases in Oregon of people with disabilities and older adults being pushed by family members or other “caregivers” to request a lethal prescription, or being “assisted” to take the lethal dose without any independent witnesses or proof that the person consented at the time. Proponents of assisted suicide claim that the Oregon law is working perfectly: that is only true if by working perfectly they mean that it is killing some people without consent and without any action from the state.
To support this critical effort, go to CDR’s GoFundMe.