Friday, July 30, 2010

Not Dead Yet Montana organizer suggests that advocates for assisted suicide are not doing so out of a concern for the suffering

The following is the latest blog comment by Not Dead Yet researcher, Stephen Drake. This blog comment focuses on the quotes by Bob Liston, who is a Not Dead Yet organizer in Montana, in the article entitled "Selling Assisted Suicide" that was recently published in the National Catholic Register.

Stephen Drake offers a very compelling perspective and I was pleased to read the comments by Bob Liston who has offered an equally compelling perspective. Please read the following comments.

NDY Organizer Bob Liston Quoted in "Selling Assisted Suicide" in National Catholic Register

Elenor Schoen has written a good analysis of the recent efforts of Compassion and Choices (aka "Conflation and Con Jobs") in several states. I recommend reading the whole article, titled "Selling Assisted Suicide, State by State," ( but I'll share the last part of the article, devoted to disability concerns, as articulated by Montana NDY and ADAPT ( organizer Bob Liston:
Bob Liston is disabled and has problems with the idea that those advocating for assisted suicide are really doing so out of a true concern for the suffering.

Liston is an organizer for Not Dead Yet in Montana, a group officially opposed to assisted suicide and euthanasia, and works for Adapt, a national disability-rights organization. He told the Register, “I think that in Montana it is unnecessary for an assisted suicide law to be written because we already have laws on the books that allow a physician to provide palliative care up to and including efforts that might hasten death.” He added: “So, I have a really hard time seeing why we need to go beyond this.”

It is the faulty assumptions about those whose lives it will affect that he finds upsetting. “Compassion & Choices … seems to think that taking one’s own life is dignified, often using the example of [a disabled person’s need for assistance with personal care and hygiene] as a reason to not go on living.” But he adds that some disabled people need this kind of total assistance on a daily basis “and are grateful for it.”

Compassion & Choices “puts forth the argument that so few people in Oregon have chosen assisted suicide [because] the guidelines are so strict. Nothing could be further from the truth,” he insisted, adding: “We have no idea what is really going on in Oregon because recordkeeping is not required.”

Liston stated: “As a person with a disability, I would say that not only is this the wrong law [favoring assisted suicide] to pass — it is definitely the wrong message.”

“If [the citizens of Montana] put as much effort into suicide prevention for people wanting this, or services for people with disabilities to live in their communities, not just have a life in a nursing home,” Liston concludes, “we would be a much greater nation.”
Bob believes we can be that greater nation. He - like many other disability activists - has devoted a large portion of his life to advocating for that vision of a greater nation. He believes this country is capable of offering people with disabilities and seniors other options than warehousing or a "compassionate" death.

I think it's pretty essential we all grab onto that vision - it could be a matter of life or death. Maybe your own or someone you care about.

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