Why the disabled fear assisted suicide: Dominic Lawson

The recent BBC broadcast of the suicide of 71-year-old Peter Smedley in Switzerland was a public relations triumph for campaigner Sir Terry Pratchett. “This has been a happy event,” he told the BBC. But journalist Dominic Lawson took issue with this in the Independent:

“It is clear that the intended beneficiaries of Pratchett's campaign must be those who are physically incapacitated – as he fears he will be: the fully able-bodied need not call upon others to kill us. For this reason, any legislators thinking of backing Pratchett's cause would do well to consult the members of the charity Scope. Scope represents the hundreds of thousands of Britons with cerebral palsy, far and away the most common form of congenital physical disability and which affects, to a greater or lesser extent, one in every 400 children born in the UK.”

He continues:

“The chief executive of Scope, Richard Hawkes, having observed the head of steam building up behind the campaign for voluntary euthanasia, has sensibly been spending much of his time consulting his members, and other disability groups, about their feelings on this matter. Last month Scope released one of the results, a poll by ComRes, which revealed that no fewer than 70 per cent of disabled people are concerned that the changes in the law advocated by Pratchett would create pressure on vulnerable patients to ‘end their lives prematurely’.”

One woman named Valerie, a 71-year-old woman from Islington in north London, said at a meeting that if she fell over in the street when she was younger, people would help her up. However, she said, “now people just walk past.” Lawson comments:

“That is the state of mind, on both sides, in which assisted suicide for the severely physically disabled could so insidiously turn from being a liberating option into something more like an oppressive social obligation. I have no doubt that Terry Pratchett's campaign has good intentions; but for the very people he most means to help, they could pave the road to Hell.” ~ Independent, Jun 14

Cross-posted from BioEdge


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