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Crippen's take on the 'final solution' of assisted suicides / 7 July 2009

The following letter is currently being circulated in order to bring attention to Lord Falconer's attempts to amend the Coroner's and Justice Bill on 7th July in the House of Lords. This could have a significant impact on our community ... please read on.

Open Letter from Leaders of Disabled People’s Movement in UK and USA

Dear Sir,

As leaders of the disabled people’s movement in the UK and the USA, we are extremely concerned about how the proposed amendment to the Coroners and Justice Bill will impact onthe lives of disabled people.

If Lord Falconer’s amendment succeeds in the House of Lords on Tuesday 7 July then those who assist ‘terminally ill’ people to go abroad to end their lives in ‘suicide clinics’ would be immune from prosecution.

The phrase ‘terminally ill’ is not defined in the amendment, and could apply to people with a very wide range of chronic progressive illnesses some with life expectancy stretching to decades. Disabled people who experience progressive conditions understand far more than non-disabled
people about what it is live with these pressures. We know what is acceptable as disease or disability progresses, and for the huge number of us who say no to assisted suicide, it is because we fear the changing culture such an amendment would bring. People without experience of
disability, including our friends and families cannot predict what each stage of our personal journey will mean. Furthermore, financial and emotional conflicts of interest will always present an added burden to the situation. A law decriminalising assisted suicide would undoubtedly place
disabled people under pressure to end their lives early to relieve the burden on relatives, carers or the state.

These concerns are not side issues that only affect disabled people. We are like society’s ‘canaries in the coalmine’ who can often see the dangers of potentially discriminatory legislation before others, as it impacts on us even before the deed is done. We are scared now; we will be terrified if assisted suicide becomes state-sanctioned.

The existing law, with the penalties it holds in reserve, causes potential assisters and those wishing to die, to think very carefully before acting. The discretion within the current law enables judges to exercise compassion in hard cases. What is not broken does not need fixing.
Disabled people have been largely silent in this debate which has been carried out in the media by clerics, non-disabled commentators and a small handful of individuals with terminal conditions who are supported by Dignity in Dying. Until people like us are present to engage in this highly
complex and ethical debate, we must strongly oppose any device such as Lord Falconer’s amendment to get assisted dying in through the back door.

Baroness Campbell of Surbiton - Crossbench Peer
Liz Sayce - CEO, RADAR
Julie Newman - Chair, United Kingdom Disabled People’s Council (UKDPC)
David Morris - Chair of Independent Living Alternatives
Haqeeq Bostan - Director of New Disability Policy Forum
Diane Coleman - President, Not Dead Yet
Rachel Hurst - Disability Awareness in Action
Mike Smith - Chair, National Centre for Independent Living
Colin Revell - CEO, NeuroDiversity International (NDI)
Marilyn Golden - Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF)
Alison Davis - National Coordinator, No Less Human
Alice Maynard - Director, Future Inclusion
Linda Burnip - Executive Health and Safety Officer for Warwickshire and Coventry CDP
Liz Crow - Roaring Girl Productions
Stephen Drake - Research Analyst, Not Dead Yet
Adrian Whyatt - Chair, NeuroDiversity International (NDI)
Keith Armstrong - Historian, writer, musician and video maker
Dawn Willis - Activist/Trainer affiliated to RETHINK
Professor Colin Barnes - Centre for Disability Studies, University of Leeds
Louise Clifford - Daughter of Max Clifford
Leonard Zandrow - General Counsel, National Spinal Cord Injury Association
Ann Macfarlane OBE - Kingston CIL
Andrew Bruce - East Sussex CIL Development Worker
Tara Flood - Director, Alliance for Inclusive Education
Andrew Little - Director, Ahead Disability Equipment & Consultancy LLP
Alison Cater - Director, Ahead Disability Equipment & Consultancy LLP
Janice Ollerton - Disabilities Studies Researcher/Activist (Australia)
Dr. Mark Mostert - Director, Institute for the Study of Disabilities & Bioethics
Virginia Beach, Virginia, USA
Joseph M. Camilleri - CHAIR, Kummissjoni Nazzjonali Persuni b'Dizabilità (Malta)
Julie McNamara - Activist / Director Crossings Theatre
Kate Nash - Not Dead Yet
Roxanne Homayoun - Direct Action Network
Dr Ju Gosling - Chair, Regard
John W Smith - Coordinator Disabled Peoples Alliance, Northamptonshire
Kelly Buckland - Executive Director, National Council on Independent Living
(for identification purposes only)

Keywords: assisted suicide,politics,

Comments

Marisha Bonar

/
4 November 2009

Sorry as I already commented on the 07th of July.....but wish to be more honest about why I'm so divided in my own feelings about this subject......For me, every case is unique.

Sorry as well for this boring and personal story, still wish to express my Feelings:

This touches really me a lot.....

Most Members of my own Family -on my Mother's side- were murdered by the fucking nazi's -CAN'T , DON'T wish to write nazi in Capital Letters!!!!!-. My own Mother was 1 year in a concentration camp, and 1 month away from being transported to Auschwitz. She, even now, remembers every single detail, and was only a kid when she was taken in one of those beautiful trains there.....

Yes, the nazi's exterminated many many many Disabled People.....but/and in my own opinion, created so many many many Disabled People as well, impaired Children, Woman, Man, for the remaining of their days ...... I can just see/feel that in the very little that remains of my own Family,the ones who just survived.....I saw some of my Family with the numbers on their arms....Some wished they didn't survived .... My Mother has been ordered by a judge to be internalized in a psychiatric hospital, where she is letting herself die, and I can't do anything to stop her. Even if I've tried ,and I believe that I've tried my best(??????), at the end of the day, who am'I to tell her anything???It's Her wish,Her choice. My Grandfather commited Suicide as well......YES, assisted suicide-NOT in Dignitas, but through the Black Market in Hungary- as he was left paralysed and could NOT move to do it himself.He would have.

All my Respect to ALL of them !!!!!!

Sorry for getting so personal.....or should I be sorry for sharing this????

Marisha =^.^=

For ALL of those who are against Suicide/assisted

Suicide......Might be you/we should only try for a second to put ourselves in their skins???????

Crippen

/
26 August 2009

Daniel James chose to end his life at the Dignitas clinic in Switzerland in September 2008. For further information please go to the following web link: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article4969423.ece

Olivia James, sister of Daniel James

/
30 July 2009

Let me start by saying that i think you and anyone who sees any humour in your vulgar cartoon is sick and nasty!For me and im sure many other people will agree this is the difference between yourself and my brother as individuals. Either able bodied or disabled he would never make fun of anyone or their families in a truly tragic situation. Its people like you who give a very poor perception of people with disabilities. We have not and will not make it our place to give our opinions on how other people should live their lives or how they choose to end it. Ultimately they are the only ones who have the right to choose. How is it that if your life is so happy and fulfilled you need to spend your days creating twisted cartoons thats lets face majority of people would not find remotely funny!i would really like to know how you are supporting disabled with this kind of micky taking behaviour?!There is absolubtely no camparison between you and my brother as you are a disgrace to any human being with a heart.

Richard Downes

/
9 July 2009

another final solution though somewhat local

sanda

/
9 July 2009

In haste last comment, I forgot to say how much I like the cartoon with the letter.

I shall visit all the art and blogs. One by one, as can. Thanks for your welcome.

Clair Lewis

/
9 July 2009

There is no dignity in death, in death there is nothing at all.

Quality of life is not improved by killing, it is permanently denied.

I want dignity and quality while I am alive, and everyone should be entitled to it - disabled, sick, or otherwise.

I had to face the possibility first of my daughter's and then my own death in my early twenties and I am now 36. Luckily I got to live and be a disabled person instead. Every day is a gift and its glory is mine.

Clair Lewis

~ may the joy of each new day flood you with pride and power ~

Jodie

/
8 July 2009

Protesters who scream 'EUGENICS', 'Nazi sympathiser' everytime the euthanasia debate is raised are doing the cause more harm than good imo. When you see someone you love slowly die in pain it can give you a different perspective. If a loved one asked me to help them I would say Yes (out of love and respect for them) and deal with the legal ramifications at a later date. If I had to go to jail for my beliefs then so be it.

Crippen

/
8 July 2009

Stephen Drake's critique of Tom Shakespeare's essay can be found on - http://networkedblogs.com/p7152207

Crippen

/
8 July 2009

Hi Sanda,

thanks for logging on and sharing your web site information. Hope you'll become a regular visitor. Kind regards, Crippen

Sanda Aronson

/
8 July 2009

I just heard about your website on NotDeadYet. Nice to meet you.

My skills won't get an image on, so I'll post where my art is online. (I started the Disabled Artists' Network, April 1985 and it's still "running". A mail and pen-network. I'm newly online and still a beginner. My art is at:

www.artistlightbox.com/sandaaronson

(My humor went in the direction of inventing

the femalized version of the universal

wheelchair symbol. I'm an older feminist, as well as being disabled and wheelchair user.)

Stephen Drake

/
8 July 2009

To Liz:

Lots of people at any given time want to kill themselves. Many who do would love the opportunity to get approval for it and to have someone make sure they don't screw it up.

Unless we're offering this "help" and approval to *everyone* who is serious about killing themselves, it's really not about respect or choice.

As long as it's a "right" only given to old, ill and disabled people it looks a lot more like "culling the herd." --Stephen

liz porter

/
8 July 2009

Like many above, I am devided in how I feel about this difficult issue. But surely if we are to subscribe to the 'social model', then people must be allowed to make their own choices around life and how they might choose to die. It's certainly not clear cut. What I am certain off though is that as a 'communityin collective voice, we can work towards ensuring that people are given comprehensive information. See disabled people in positions of power living full lives, show disabled people in films, tV radio dramas not just as tragic but brave but as real rounded invidiuals, with human emotions and having to make complex decisions on an everyday basis, and coming through. It is not my place to make a 'moral' or personal decision for someone else.

Alison Davis

/
8 July 2009

If Tom Shakespeare were right about "choice" being pre-eminent, I would not be here now. Some years ago, I wanted to die - a settled wish that lasted 10 years. Had assisted suicide or euthanasia been available then I would have requested death. I would have qualified under the criteria for assisted suicide because as well as several disabling conditions, at that time doctors thought (wrongly as it turned out) that I was terminally ill. Sometimes our "choices" are wrong. To suggest otherwise is to conclude that it wouldn't have mattered much if I had died then, even though, as it turned out, the best of my life still lay ahead in the future.

Colin Revell

/
8 July 2009

To quote Nabil Shaban from facebook...

... No one should ever be given permission to kill another person. No one can be trusted to be assisting suicide for purely unselfish and so-called "humane" reasons. I believe anyone who wants to die, can and will die without any assistance. If the mind and soul is genuinely ready for death, then death will come. If animals can do, then so can humans. No matter how physically incapable a person seems to be, if they want to die, then their mind WILL switch the body off...often in the form of a brain haemorrhage or heart attack.

We should not be allowing doctors to end the lives of patients in their care, with such evil practices as DNR...i.e. Do Not Resuscitate...depriving of food and water etc...and we should not give people, whether they be friends, family, spouses, the power to end another person's life. Here lies the slippery slope towards enforced euthanasia of unproductive and unwanted consumers...and the next step to Hitler's murderous eugenics programme of gassing disabled people.

The DARE videos

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=_e9KnIfSqwE... Read more

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kPH4v1kOjpk

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yQKpW0BtzlM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mUf4VPvN_Ro

/
8 July 2009

The issues around assisted suicide are incredibly complex. One of the barriers to a rounded debate is that there are no positive images in the media of disabled people living with complex impairment needs. The lack of a real sense of power and control over our lives is a problem that society continually puts in our path as disabled people. Decisions are in the hands of professionals all the way down the line and so often there is such a lack of consultation. On the other hand though we, as a movement, do not have the moral right to deny people the choice of assisted suicide if that is their wish. There are no simplistic answers. We need more accountability from within the medical profession. Fundamentally it is a debate about the value of human life and the arguement about assisted suicide impacts on

arguments about the moral right to impose war. We need more objective open debate than the kind of demonising of individuals for not having beliefs that concur absolutely with our own.

/
7 July 2009

I think Tom is naive in his implication that 'humans' can't be coerced? Those within the mental health system are so often coerced into taking 'chemical coshes.' How can we trust those 'In-Power'?

As Jane Campbell rightly stated that this bill can't be given the 'Green Light', .... If it doesn't then the 'final-solution' within humanity; 'the slippery slope', is just around the corner for all humanity, especially those with 'Lives' Unworthy Of Living'... THE POOR!!!

FREE OUR PEOPLE

Colin Revell

Stephen Drake

/
7 July 2009

Have you been reading the same news I have? The parade of nonterminally ill people going to Dignitas to die with "dignity"? The feigned shock (shades of Casblanca) from Dying with Dignity and bioethicists when an analysis came out a few weeks ago elaborating on the obvious? Did you notice how easily the public shrugged off the suicide of Daniel James as pretty much the same thing as someone dying finding "dignity" in death?

I would like to know what you think about the euthanasia advocates' willingness to conflate disability and terminal illness? -Stephen Drake

Dave Lupton

/
7 July 2009

Just heard that the Lords voted to defeat the amendment to the Coroners and Justice Bill by 194 to 141.

Colin Revell

/
7 July 2009

Do you remember the 'Nazi Eugenic Programme and Nazi 'Disability' Holocaust?..... Do you really trust others with making the right decisions of who should have assistive dying/suicide and that our lives will not be commodified and decisions will be based on 'Who's Life Is Unworthy? What about the 'poor'?

The 'grassroots' Disabled Peoples' 'movement can build on this victory for 'assistive-living!!!

/
7 July 2009

Read Tom's article on - http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/jul/07/assisted-dying-terminally-ill-disabled

Tom Shakespeare

/
7 July 2009

I think this petition is fundamentally misconceived. Disability activists should not be seeking to deny terminally ill people choice at the end of life. Surveys show that the majority of disabled people do not oppose assisted suicide. Nor are disabled people at risk of being coerced into death. Disability rights is about having control over your life, and if terminally ill, over the time and manner of your death. That's what "choices and rights" means. Not just "we support your choices as long as we agree with them"

Marisha Bonar

/
7 July 2009

Hiya Dave,

I need to be Honest with this,

I'm sorry as I don't have the great use of the English language to express my feelings about this matter in a better way, so I'll do it in my best way:

I can't/don't wish to sign a petition which is circulating at present to stop the amendment proposed,as at this very present stage, I'm very divided within my own beliefs, about this issue....

I need to be clear first about this very difficult subject...and I'm not......

I have to admit sincerely that I do fully agree with assisted Suicide in some cases and do not in others....I just can't put it as a WHOLE, as in my own belief, each case of whoever decides to go ahead with assisted suicide, is a very personal and individual case.Personaly, the idea that we, People, have the right to live should in my own opinion apply as well to us People, who should have, the right to die, in a dignify way, if/whenever we choose to.....Who is who to control our lives and death??

If it's a debate which already creates such a division....I'm divided in my own beliefs about it.....

Marisha

PD: Sorry as I can't even comment about your cartoon this time.....