Disability Groups File Amicus Brief with Supreme Court in Gonzales v. Oregon

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Eleven prominent disability organizations and one university-based policy center were to file a friend of the court brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in the Oregon assisted suicide case. Not Dead Yet, the leading national disability rights organization opposing legalization of assisted suicide, is filing the brief.

Eleven prominent disability organizations and one university-based policy center were to file a friend of the court brief today with the U.S. Supreme Court in the Oregon assisted suicide case. Not Dead Yet, the leading national disability rights organization opposing legalization of assisted suicide, is filing the brief, which supports the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) appeal of the decision in the lower court, which upheld the Oregon assisted suicide law.

The following organizations are joining the brief in the matter of Gonzales v. Oregon (No. 04-623):

Not Dead Yet

ADAPT

Center on Disability Studies, Law and Human Policy at Syracuse University

Center for Self-Determination

Hospice Patients Alliance

Mouth Magazine/Freedom Clearinghouse

National Council on Independent Living

National Spinal Cord Injury Association

Self-Advocates Becoming Empowered

Society for Disability Studies

TASH

World Institute on Disability.

Not Dead Yet and its co-amici agree with the DOJ position that assisted suicide is not a "legitimate medical" use of federally controlled substances, and that it should not exempt Oregon physicians who provide lethal prescriptions under the Oregon assisted suicide law from disciplinary action concerning their licenses to prescribe controlled substances.

Not Dead Yet’s amicus brief in the case, joined by the groups listed above, argues that the Oregon assisted suicide law cannot supply a foundation for the "legitimate medical" use for controlled substances.

Oregon’s assisted suicide law encourages disabled individuals, those who are “terminal” and those who may not be, to end their lives – and guarantees such efforts will result in death – while other state laws concurrently discourage non-disabled persons from suicide.

“If assisted suicide were really about personal autonomy, it would be available to all suicidal people,” said Diane Coleman, president and founder of Not Dead Yet. “But really, assisted suicide statutes are the ultimate societal judgment that the life of a person with a disability is not as worthwhile as that of a non-disabled person.”

Assisted suicide also raises serious ethical concerns regarding the medical profession’s treatment of disabled people. It requires doctors to make difficult, if not impossible, determinations of a person’s competency and life expectancy, the consequences of which are both ultimate and irreversible. According to attorney Max Lapertosa, assisted suicide is a “dangerous distraction from policies that really enhance people’s independence and dignity – access to palliative care and other forms of community-based long-term care.”

The full brief may be found at: http://www.notdeadyet.org/docs/gonzalesvorsupct.html.

Contact:

Max Lapertosa, (312)253-7000, ext. 131

Diane Coleman, (708)209-1500, ext. 11

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Stephen Drake
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