Thursday, February 19, 2015

Not Dead Yet Aotearoa launched in New Zealand.

Not Dead Yet Aotearoa, (NDYA) a new voice for disabled people in euthanasia and assisted suicide issues, has launched today. The organisation opposes euthanasia and assisted suicide laws and policies in New Zealand and advocates for the equal value of disabled lives.

This launch is very timely, says NDYA convener, Wendi Wicks. We want to be a key voice in the debates that are so important to us. Our community’s concerns about the consequences of such legislation haven’t been well heard to this point.

Disabled people want to have a good life. But too many of us lack the basic choices that our human dignity demands. That means many of us don’t feel at all secure and valued equally. But, ironically, society will happily provide us with the choice to die!

Huhana Hickey
We’re seen too much in medical and deficit terms, with an undue emphasis on the unbearable pain and suffering associated with disability, says NDYA member Huhana Hickey. We’re seen as costly too, a drain on scarce public resources.

Our lives are already at greater risk when people think we don’t need to live, and put "do not resuscitate" notices in our medical files without our consent. In these kinds of situations, free and informed consent is a travesty - and in our key relationships with health professionals and service providers, we are too often at their mercy because of their power over our lives. So we find ourselves on the back foot, in an incredibly difficult place.

If people get to hear only one view on this issue, Wendi Wicks says, they won’t get to realise how much laws enabling assistance for individual choices to die can put the human rights of a whole community like ours at risk. Because our society holds such negative views about disabled lives, and because there are so many risks to our disabled community from euthanasia legislation, it’s vital to hear NDYA’s perspectives too.

As part of an international movement of disabled people in disability organisations opposed to euthanasia laws, Not Dead Yet Aotearoa looks forward to putting our views before the New Zealand public, who deserve the full story.

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