The inaccuracies and elisions in the Economist article: Doctors should be allowed to help the suffering and terminally ill to die when they choose came as a shock. I thought that the Economist held to finer standards of journalism.
Canada recently wrote into law that disability is, in and of itself, sufficient reason for a euthanasia death. Professor Em Etienne Vermeersch declaimed (Goethe Institute, November 13, 2013): Belgium's euthanasia law was written for disabled people, who quite rightly in in his view, would want to die: a transsexual deeply failed by family and ‘healthcare’, an anorexic woman sexually abused by her treating psychiatrist, a woman being treated for depression with medication known to bring suicidal ideation, deaf twins who found they were also becoming blind who were deeply afraid of being institutionalised? Now a young 24 year old woman who thinks euthanasia is a 'nice idea’, finds planning her own death and funeral 'fun' is granted a euthanasia death because 'life is not for her'. She formed this idea after a friend committed suicide eighteen months ago. All of them would absolutely qualify for protection under disability discrimination law in the UK. What they are getting is a false positive: 'of course we understand. Yes, we have the solution for you at the end of a syringe.’
Your article denies a stark reality.
Assisted dying (why ‘soften’ the language? Assisted suicide and euthanasia should be legal everywhere on grounds on mental anguish is explicitly written into Belgium's 2002 euthanasia law. By this logic gay people, who are deeply distressed by the prejudice and discrimination they suffer, would qualify. Or black people, when so obviously persecuted, older people the evidence of whose abuse is almost daily, those of certain faiths or even shades of supposedly the same faith dying horribly on the shards of ideology.
Disabled people understand discrimination in all its forms and subtleties, from direct experience. In a secular world. To diminish us, our well-researched, well-formed views to that of Stephen Hawking who represents not one disabled person's organisation anywhere, is facile, and the clearest example of the lazy moral thinking that infects this piece, to our great disappointment. With your high-standing and reputation comes a high level of responsibility; it is deeply betrayed here.
We have long argued that pain is not the primary nor even the biggest reason people want to die. Even Lord Falconer, promoter of legislation in the British House of Lords, has admitted this now.: ‘…pain…can be dealt with…it is the sense of people losing independence and being reliant on other people…there’s a small number of people who…find that an intolerable position...’ Yes, 61% of people in Washington State US say they want to die because they feel themselves ‘to be a burden on others’ (Daily Mail 11 June 2014). No small number that.
Even amongst the most worrying of your discussion contributors knows this:
‘It is not always about pain. It is also about being decrepit, disabled, incapable of taking care of oneself anymore, getting blind, getting incontinent, becoming an object of disgust and pity for those in charge of cleaning you up and feeding you. Who wants to go through all that when there is an easy way out?’There it is: all of it. Becoming an object of disgust and pity for others, being 'decrepit, disabled’ - and when the 'easy way out’ is to hand.
Your article wrapped us all up in anti-religious sanctity of life. Such assumption. There are as many atheist, agnostic, believing disabled people as in any population. We are not a homogenous whole. Ours is not a religious argument in any way. Ours is the evidence of rank disability discrimination - to death.