Dear Esteemed Members of the Assembly Committee:
Please let it be known that the Autistic Self Advocacy Network strongly oppose ABx2 15; on the grounds of systemic oppression. Misdiagnosis, racial inequality, classism, and ableism all lend themselves to identity-specific disadvantages within the medical sphere. Hence, unwilling people will die; no matter what the government statistics say. In passing such a law, the government is creating a responsibility that lies beyond its capabilities. The government cannot even manage to fix our homelessness problem or the educational system; how is it going to oversee assisted suicide?
Many people in the disabled community have:
1) Been misdiagnosed as terminally ill
2) Experienced a mental illness that their psychiatrists and psychologists have not recognized, perhaps even for years-the idea that mental illness so obvious as to be recognized by a general practioner is rooted in stereotypes about how people with psychiatric disabilities behave; and in very hopeful conceptions of how talented diagnosticians are.
3) Have observed that people with disabilities face discrimination in the medical sphere; such as pressure to sign inappropriate DNR orders. DNR orders are NOT the same as assisted suicide, because someone who signs a DNR order and then gets better always has the opportunity to address how he or she was treated. A person who takes lethal medication will definitely die, which would negate any opportunity for that person to recover or pursue justice for how they were treated.
We realize that many regard “aid in dying” as a social justice issue, and we agree; except that the proponents are on the wrong side of it. Most social justice advocates realize that government statistics do not reflect reality. Oregon’s statistics are reported by doctors who participate in assisted suicide. Most people are reluctant to admit that they broke the law; much less that they facilitated the death of an unwilling person; hence, most injustice occurs in private. Hence, the proponents interpretation of the Oregon’s statistics reflects a privileged experience of the justice system. Given the legislature’s knowledge of such systemic oppression, it is unjust for it to institute yet another means of normalized, invisible violence; no matter what its intentions are. Mainstream social justice activists are working to prevent laws the precipitate systemic coercion, mistakes and abuse. As social justice activists for the disabled community, we demand that the experiences of people with disabilities and terminal illnesses be afforded the same insight, nuance, and respect.
In short, please reflect critically on why SB-128 failed in the assembly: It failed because Democrats representing disadvantaged constituents opposed that measure. Despite C&C’s attempts to forefront the support of famous activists who have seen their efforts pay off, regular people know that past success does not negate the reality of continued oppression. In we ask that you listen to LULAC, The California Disability Alliance, Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice, the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, Communities United in Defense of Olmstead, TASH and other voices in the California community who are progressive, but who consider personal liberty and freedom within the context of systemic disenfranchisement. The majority of such people do not want this law. We are all for autonomy, but no at the expense of disenfranchised people’s lives. We know that the proponents and their legislative allies would like to prevent such travesties, but we know that they cannot. Please vote no on AB x2 15.
Deputy Executive Director
Autistic Self Advocacy Network