Friday, September 19, 2014

Disability rights group protests International pro-euthanasia conference.

Chicago - Not Dead Yet Protest of International pro-euthanasia conference - Day 1.

Yesterday, September 18th, was the first day of NDY’s protest and vigil at the World Federation of Right to Die Societies Conference.

I’m pushed for time this morning, so this will be brief. I’ll post more later.

Diane Coleman
There were many speakers opening up the protest yesterday in Chicago (full list to come) – below is the address given by NDY’s founder and president Diane Coleman:

The incredible activists of Not Dead Yet, that’s who you are. 
And it’s wonderful to see all my friends in Chicago again. Thanks to Progress Center and Access Living for doing so much to make our voices heard this week as we protest the World Federation of Right to Die Societies. Thanks to LIFE CIL, the Will-Grundy Center in Illinois, and TRIPIL from Pennsylvania, and folks who’ve come from as far away as Colorado and Canada. You’re amazing. 
My long time mentor on this issue is Carol Gill, who I first met on a picket line trying to save a young woman with cerebral palsy from a suicide wish that the Hemlock Society exploited. We helped buy her time and, eventually, she didn’t go through with it and lived. Three decades later, we’re still fighting this issue and sometimes I wonder if society will ever get it that we deserve the same suicide prevention as everybody else. 
When Not Dead Yet started up 18 years ago, the three assisted suicide advocacy organizations in the U.S. each got a white male wheelchair user added to their Boards to try to neutralize our impact. It didn’t work very well. 
If you wonder whether what we are doing is making any difference, this year, with the help of John Kelly, our New England Regional Director, the disability community played a key role in defeating assisted suicide bills in NH, MA and CT. Are we a force to recon with? We got a little more confirmation recently. Some of you may have heard that the attorney who worked many years for Compassion & Choices (formerly the Hemlock Society) was recently hired by the Disability Rights Legal Center in Los Angeles. It seems that California is a target state next year. 
Fortunately, we have the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, in our corner, right there is California. But there’s work to be done. This is National Suicide Prevention Month and we’re here to deliver a message that equal rights include the right to equal suicide prevention, not a streamlined path to assisted suicide and euthanasia. What we know is this: 
We want assistance to live, not die.
We are not better off dead than disabled.
We don’t need to die to have dignity.
We are strong and proud, and we are
NOT DEAD YET!!
You can read local coverage of the conference and protest from the local CBS affiliate here.

To get involved at home and/or get the latest updates on the protest, you can do the following:
  1. If you use twitter, follow @NotDeadYetUSA on twitter.
  2. Facebook users should “like” the Not Dead Yet page.
Share any updates with your friends and followers. If you have a blog, or use any other web medium to write, this would be a good time to educate your readers on the issues.

Remember, things are scheduled to get started at noon central time today. But these things have a way of running late, so don’t panic if you don’t hear anything at the crack of noon.

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