Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition
In 2015, 26 states have considered legislation to legalize assisted suicide and all of them have defeated that legislation. Disability rights groups, Not Dead Yet, the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF) and Second Thoughts are successfully leading the opposition to assisted suicide.
An article by Danielle Ohl and published by McClatchy DC examines one woman's experience with cancer while explaining why disability rights leaders oppose assisted suicide.
with her daughter.
Doctors told Chasity Phillips in 2002 that she had a 50 percent chance of surviving surgery.
Her choices were certain death, her doctors said, or surgery to remove part of the tumor.
She chose the surgery. Still, the return of her cancer was likely. Doctors told her she would have six months to a year before it grew back, requiring more risky followups.
But 13 years later, Phillips is 38 years old and thriving, despite two very severe medical conditions.
Phillips developed a healthy philosophy about her possible mortality:
“There’s a certain freedom that comes with dying,” said Phillips, who lives near New Orleans. “You really don’t have to deal with your annoying cousin. You really don’t have to go on that family trip. You can eat ice cream for breakfast.”
“The risk of mistake and coercion and abuse are really too great,” said Diane Coleman, founder and CEO of Not Dead Yet, an advocacy group that informs and lobbies on behalf of the disabled.
To Not Dead Yet and the Disability Rights, Education and Defense Fund, this amounts to fear of disability rather than fear of painful death or lessened quality of life.
The laws have a provision that bars physicians from prescribing a life-ending prescription to a person with disabilities simply because they are disabled. But opponents stipulate that the danger does not come from those with disabilities who might feel pressure to end their lives, but those without disabilities who fear becoming disabled or having a poorer quality of life.
Marilyn Golden, a senior policy analyst with the DREDF acquired her disability after an injury commented on her personal experience. From the story:
“At the beginning, I felt that the injury was unbearable,”
“A year later, it hit me: There was no change in my quality of life.”
Every state that has debated assisted suicide in 2015 have rejected the death bill. Recently the sponsors of the California assisted suicide bill pulled the bill after recognizing that it would be defeated in the House Health Committee.