Thursday, January 28, 2021

A Renewed Call for Black Folks: Join Us and Stop Assisted Suicide!

This article was published by the disability rights group, Not Dead Yet on January 27, 2020

By Anita Cameron

Some years ago, I wrote why Black folks should join the movement against physician assisted suicide. I spoke of racial disparities in healthcare, the tendency for us to be poor and our lives devalued and the efforts of Compassion and Choices to convince us that we’re being deprived of a basic right.

I spoke about why many Black folks feel that this is a privileged white folks issue that shouldn’t concern us because that isn’t our culture. Many of us are fighting against systemic racism, white supremacy and police violence and don’t have the energy to devote to something they feel doesn’t affect our community. 

But, that was before COVID-19. Now we see that it is ravaging communities of color, particularly Black, Indigenous and Latine communities. We’re witnessing and hearing stories of rampant medical discrimination against disabled people and Blacks, in particular.

By now, many of us have heard Michael Hickson’s story. He was the 46 year old Black disabled Texas man who was refused treatment for COVID-19 due to disability, placed in hospice and allowed to die. Dr. Susan Moore, a doctor in Indiana, contracted COVID-19 and suffered racist treatment while in the hospital. She made a video describing her treatment. She later died.

They are just the tip of the iceberg. There are many, many more Dr. Moores and Michael Hicksons.

What does this have to do with doctor assisted suicide? 

Compassion and Choices has been pushing for assisted suicide for those who get COVID-19 and pushing to do it through telemedicine visits.

They have made serious inroads into the Black community and have convinced Black nurses that doctor assisted suicide is a benefit that Blacks should take advantage of. There have been incremental increases of Blacks requesting assisted suicide. The more it gets normalized, especially in diverse states, the more those numbers will rise.

Blacks are at risk from assisted suicide laws because racial disparities in healthcare:

1. Lead to limited health choices and poorer health outcomes.
2. Make it more likely that doctors will “write off” patients as terminal.
3. Make it less likely that patients can afford life-saving treatment.
4. Make it less likely that patients will receive adequate pain treatment.
It is imperative that Blacks and Black organizations get involved in the movement against the passage of doctor assisted suicide laws, especially if you are sick, disabled, poor and seniors. Racial disparities in healthcare, as well as the tendency of doctors to devalue the lives of disabled, poor and elderly will push people into doctor assisted suicide. We can’t let this happen to our community.

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