Thursday, November 20, 2008

Speaking out Against the Pressure of Being Required to Die

Well, it didn’t take long in Britain.

It’s already a fact of life in the Netherlands.

Feeling that if you have a disability you should somehow feel guilty for not wanting to do yourself in, that is.

Good for Sue Garner-Jones. We need more people with disabilities like her to speak out, to join her and my friend Tony.

We, and they, need to speak out very, very loudly.

For 34 years, following an accident, Sue has been in a wheelchair, pretty much paralyzed from the neck down with only very limited use of her hands. She receives 24/7 care from her 72 year-old mother.

She’s done pretty well along the way. Sue has a PhD, is a part-time lecturer at Liverpool University, and helps out in her community by tutoring school children in English.

She’d had enough after reading about all the fawning press accounts of the assisted suicide of Daniel James. Dan, you’ll recall, was taken by his parents to Switzerland from England where the Swiss assisted suicide Nazis, Dignitas, were happy to help kill him.

Here’s part of what Sue said:

People make their own decisions about how to live their life. But there’s a lot of talk about bravery and courage for people who were opting out of living their lives. I didn’t like the inverse of that. To call this action ‘brave’, ‘courageous’ and ‘selfless’ implies that those of us who battle on are ‘cowardly’ and ‘selfish’, which is unfair and untrue.

Great point, Sue, but that’s what it’s soon coming to in the formerly glorious seat of Empire.

But it’s hardly news, unfortunately.

In the Netherlands, many elderly people carry identification or wear bracelets that read if I am hospitalized, do not euthanize me or I do not request assisted suicide. Not that it means much. There’s very strong evidence that each year in the Netherlands hundreds of people are snuffed out anyway, even if they have never talked about, considered, or requested assistance in dying.

In a nutshell, many people in the Netherlands feel the seeping pressure to get on with it and die – as a community service, of course. Now it's Britain's turn.

Have a disability? Choose "a loving, dignified, and easy death" – or else.

Can the US be far behind?

If you read this blog, you already know the answer.

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