I’ve been saying for years that the movement to legalize assisted suicide and euthanasia is a loaded gun aimed directly at people with long-term disabilities (http://notdeadyet.org/2014/01/guest-blog-by-w-carol-cleigh-not-paying-attention.html). Though I usually value being proved correct, not so much in this case. But the blatant bigotry I’ve recently seen in that movement surprised even me.
I attended a training at the University of North Carolina Charlotte (UNCC). The UNCC Ethics Center is the North Carolina home of the Hemlock Society (which wants to be called by the euphemistic Compassion & Choices). Dan Carrigan, a professor there, president of C&C Carolina and founder of a new ‘Six Choices’ organization, openly promotes death for disabled people.
The training included ham-handed criticism of the belief that human life is sacred, but the openly ableist assertion that those who are ‘wheelchair bound’ or ‘bed bound’ are better off dead was breathtaking.
The presentation was supposed to teach ethics, but core material includes a detailed how-to guide, complete with pictures, of ‘six choices’ for getting rid of old, ill or disabled people without being arrested for murder. These include terminal sedation, a one-way trip to Switzerland, establishing residency in Oregon or one of the other states that allows death prescriptions, ‘voluntarily’ stopping food and fluids (VSED) and the ever-popular putting a plastic bag over the head (they call it ‘inert gas inhalation’). In case you’re counting, that’s only five ‘choices.’ The sixth, being a citizen of the Netherlands, Belgium or Luxembourg and opting for having the physician inject the poison, isn’t a ‘choice’ for us, but then it isn’t a choice for an increasing number of citizens of the Netherlands, Belgium or Luxembourg, as reports show that the number of those who die without request continues to grow (http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMsa071143).
Despite the ridiculous nature of some of their ‘choices,’ extreme danger for disabled people lies here.
For now, at least, it might be somewhat difficult to talk a physician into terminal sedation of someone who is not imminently dying. That is subject to change though as medical ableism continues to grow, promoted by BDTD ideology. Families with means may get the idea that a trip to Switzerland or a sojourn in Oregon is worth the cost to be rid of their disabled ‘loved’ one. However, the ‘choices’ that pose the most risk for ordinary disabled people are VSED and ‘Inhalation of inert gas.’ The problem with both of these, as with all of this, is that it’s difficult to tell if the death was truly voluntary once the person who supposedly volunteered can no longer protest. Unfortunately, there is a presumption that death was voluntary in the case of old, ill or disabled victims and law-enforcement seldom if ever fully investigates these deaths (http://www.truedignity.org/assisted-suicide-and-euthanasia-gradually-create-a-special-class-of-homicide-almost-never-investigated/). I’ve asked BDTD proponents many times how many disabled people murdered are too many and I’ve never received an answer. They seem quite comfortable promoting death for us all.
So, the BDTD movement is once again failing to hide the fact that they mean to include non-terminally ill disabled people in their program. They’re now openly putting out how-to guides to getting rid of inconvenient old, ill and disabled relatives knowing that most likely, they won’t even be investigated, much less punished for murder even if the person doesn’t want to die. – W. Carol Cleigh