Disability Activists from Not Dead Yet and Second Thoughts to Testify in Opposition to Connecticut Assisted Suicide Bill

John Kelly, Not Dead Yet’s regional director for the New England states, and disability activists from Second Thoughts Connecticut will be testifying today in Hartford against an assisted suicide bill, HB 5326. Modeled after the Massachusetts group of the same name, which was instrumental in defeating an assisted suicide ballot referendum in that state in 2012, the group says that a closer look at the details of assisted suicide proposals give people “second thoughts.”

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Cathy Ludlum of Second Thoughts Connecticut

Why do some people equate needing help with basic bodily functions to a loss of dignity? If people are literally dying from embarrassment, there is something wrong

Hartford, CT (PRWEB) March 17, 2014

John Kelly, Not Dead Yet’s regional director for the New England states, and disability activists from Second Thoughts Connecticut will be testifying today in Hartford against an assisted suicide bill, HB 5326. Sporting stickers saying “Got Second Thoughts?”, members of Second Thoughts Connecticut held a press conference last Friday to explain the reasons for their opposition to the bill.

Disability activists have received increasing attention to their opposition stance since forming the Second Thoughts Connecticut organization. Modeled after the Massachusetts group of the same name, which was instrumental in defeating an assisted suicide ballot referendum in that state in 2012, the group says that a closer look at the details of assisted suicide proposals give people “second thoughts.”    

“The bill would establish a government recommendation that doctor-prescribed suicide is sometimes the best treatment,” said Kelly. “Innocent people who are not terminal and are not making a voluntary and informed choice will lose their lives as a result.”

According to Oregon’s assisted suicide reports, 97.6% of program suicides in Oregon have been white, in a state 22% nonwhite. “Assisted suicide proponents are also overwhelmingly white,” said Kelly. “The Pew Research Center found last year that, while whites support assisted suicide 53%-44%, black and Latino voters register 65% opposition. The election map for Question 2 in Massachusetts revealed these same trends.”

Cathy Ludlum is a disability activist who has given presentations to several groups, including the Human Rights and Responsibilities Section of the Connecticut Bar Association, about the assisted suicide issue.    “Contrary to what you will hear from proponents, people do not generally ask to end their lives because they can't escape from the pain,” Ludlum told the bar association members. The suicide factors identified in the Oregon assisted suicide reports, “perceived loss of autonomy, loss of dignity, and decreasing ability to be active are completely disability issues,” she said. Ludlum uses a motorized wheelchair and employs personal care attendants to assist her in activities of daily living. “Why do some people equate needing help with basic bodily functions to a loss of dignity?” Ludlum asks. “If people are literally dying from embarrassment, there is something wrong.”

Second Thoughts member Stephen Mendelsohn criticized the stickers from the bill’s proponents, which say “My Life. My Death. My Choice.” “They don't care about all of the collateral damage assisted suicide legislation causes,” Mendelsohn said.

Referring to the issue of suicide contagion, “Rep. Betsy Ritter is quoted in the Yale Daily News saying ‘her research team found no rise in states that have right-to-die laws,’" said Mendelsohn. “But according to the Centers for Disease Control, Oregon's already high suicide rate has increased much faster than the national average from 1999 through 2010—49% versus 28% for ages 35-64.”

Mendelsohn also stated that “HB 5326 is a prescription for elder abuse on a massive scale. . . . The law protects greedy heirs and Compassion and Choices simply doesn't care.”

Every year in Connecticut, it is estimated that out of 660,000 people over age 60, there are 73,000 reported and unreported cases of abuse. Connecticut has a poor record in this area – 32nd out of 35 states surveyed in funding, and fifth worst in number of “substantiated” complaints.

At the conclusion of Friday’s press conference, WTNH reported that Second Thoughts member Elaine Kolb of West Haven was “singing the battle cry of the disability rights movement against the latest version of the assisted suicide bill.” Her song, entitled “Not Dead Yet” after the national disability group, included lyrics about cuts to Medicaid, Medicare and services, indicating a cost cutting fear: “Since death is cost-effective, Do you want us dead or alive?”

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