Submission re: Draft General Comment on Article 6
of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights – Right to Life
October 6, 2017
Not Dead Yet USA is a national, grassroots disability rights group that opposes legalization of assisted suicide and euthanasia as deadly forms of discrimination against old, ill and disabled people. Not Dead Yet USA helps organize and articulate opposition to these practices in the United States based on secular social justice arguments. Not Dead Yet also demands the equal protection of the law for the targets of so called “mercy killing” whose lives are seen as worth-less.
This submission concerns paragraph 10 of the Draft Comment, which reads as follows:
[While acknowledging the central importance to human dignity of personal autonomy, the Committee considers that States parties should recognize that individuals planning or attempting to commit suicide may be doing so because they are undergoing a momentary crisis which may affect their ability to make irreversible decisions, such as to terminate their life. Therefore,] States should take adequate measures, without violating their other Covenant obligations, to prevent suicides, especially among individuals in particularly vulnerable situations. At the same time, States parties [may allow] [should not prevent] medical professionals to provide medical treatment or the medical means in order to facilitate the termination of life of [catastrophically] afflicted adults, such as the mortally wounded or terminally ill, who experience severe physical or mental pain and suffering and wish to die with dignity. In such cases, States parties must ensure the existence of robust legal and institutional safeguards to verify that medical professionals are complying with the free, informed, explicit and, unambiguous decision of their patients, with a view to protecting patients from pressure and abuse.
We strongly oppose this draft language, which supports assisted suicide and euthanasia, thus proposing to carve older, ill and disabled people out of equal protection of the law. This submission will focus on the risks to individuals and society associated with assisted suicide and euthanasia. We will discuss the evidence from Oregon, the earliest of the five states and the District of Columbia to legalize assisted suicide, and outline the concerns of the disability community.
Regardless of our abilities or disabilities, none of us should feel that we have to die to have dignity, that we have to die to be relieved of pain, or that we should die to stop burdening our families or society. The Draft Comment on this topic must be rejected.
NDY’s full 16-page submission with references will be available on the Human Rights Committee website here, along with other submissions, including an excellent document by Toujours Vivant/Not Dead Yet Canada.