Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Taking Their Lives Off the Table

I continue to be uncomfortable with the intersection of disability rights groups and the far right in physician assissted suicide and similar cases. I wonder what makes disability groups comfortable with this union. I appreciate that the value of a disabled person's life is questioned when we indiscriminately allow (and encourage) people with disabilities and illnesses to kill themselves. But I also believe one has the right to kill one self if one chooses. One also has the right to seek help to do so if one requires help. That said, I also recognize that the environment in which we live makes a burden out of people with a disabilities when no burden actually should exist and this often causes a person with a disability or illness to kill him or herself.

With all this said, I wonder if we can take this "negotiation" of the value of the lives of people with disabilities off the table. If it was the case that the life a disabled person was as valued as the life an "able" person, would disability groups no longer object to PAS? I don't know. But until the value of life is considered equal it won't be surprising to see ties created between groups whom I mostly support and groups whom I abhor.

1 comment:

B said...

There's been a huge controversy in disability studies re. physician assisted suicide in the past month or so involving the Gonzalez v. Oregon case that the Supreme Court will soon hear. It's interesting reading. Primarily, the anti-PAS side argues that the law is weak and could lead to encouraging people with disabilities to kill themselves and generally this kind of law devalues the lives of people with disabilities. The other side has your typical (and I think correct) liberal view point - though more nuanced and disability-concious than your average view I think - that this is a personal choice and this particular law, while not perfect, makes a distinction between illness and disability and doesn't jeopardize people with disabilities at all.
Check it out: http://insidehighered.com/news/2005/10/05/disability