Monday, March 20, 2023

We all have to accept limits on our autonomy to protect others.

Meghan Schrader
By Meghan Schrader

Lately I’ve noticed some staunch right to die proponents arguing that people die in car accidents all the time, but we do not ban cars. This argument makes me very angry. It’s dehumanizing. Are the people who will die because of their agenda car accident statistics to them?

But, since some of them have used that example, I’d like to explore it by talking about my own experiences with cars. I have a Nonverbal Learning Disorder, which causes severe visual-spatial disorientation, and then some depression-induced short term memory deficits. Therefore, I cannot currently drive a car.

I did give it a try, though. In 2017 I hooked up with an agency that specialized in teaching people with autism and Nonverbal Learning Disorder to drive. Ultimately, it didn’t work out. In order to really master the skills needed to drive a car safely, I would need to practice for several hours every day, ideally in a simulator of some kind. I think with that instruction, I could learn to drive a car without killing anyone, but the instructor I had was only able to give me a couple of hours of instruction a week. Added to that I had a few hours of instruction from family members. It just wasn’t enough to master the skills needed to acquire a driver’s license.

I did, however, gain some driving skills. With someone else in the car, I was able to use my driver’s permit to drive myself safely to several places, like the grocery store, the lake, etc. I still remember some of those skills.

Therefore, if I wanted to, I could get into my parent’s car and drive myself somewhere without a license. I could probably do it without having an accident, but then again, there’s a significant probability that I would have one, and therefore endanger someone else’s life.

What the most vociferous right to die proponents basically want to do is say, “my car, my choice.” The car belongs to them, right? So, they should be able to drive their car wherever and whenever they want. They should be able to disregard stop signs and turn signals. They should be able to drive over the speed limit, and they think anyone who tells them that they can’t do that is an illogical, sadistic jerk.

That’s not fair. We all have to accept reasonable limits on our autonomy to protect others.

Meghan is an autistic person who is an instructor at E4 Texas at the University of Texas (Austin) and a EPC-USA board member. 

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