Not Dead Yet Advocates Against Oregon-Style Assisted Suicide Bill in the UK

As the British House of Lords prepares to hold debate on an assisted suicide bill modeled after Oregon’s law, American disability rights advocates from Not Dead Yet weigh in regarding the American experience. In an open letter to the House of Lords, John Kelly summarized arguments that helped defeat assisted suicide bills in three New England states this year.

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John Kelly, Director of Second Thoughts

What we disabled people see in legalizing assisted suicide is that some people get suicide prevention, while others get suicide assistance, based on value judgments and prejudice.

Boston, MA (PRWEB) July 18, 2014

Not Dead Yet USA today announced an advocacy and outreach effort to the British House of Lords, which is to debate an assisted suicide bill, HL 6, in Parliament on Friday, July 18. In addition to blogging and Twitter support, the group released an open letter to the House of Lords by Northeastern regional director, John Kelly.

“Over the past year, we have beaten back Oregon-style assisted suicide bills throughout the Northeast,” said John Kelly, “I wanted to share that experience with the House of Lords.”

“Bill 6, like the American bills, draws on shoddy science to create reckless public health policy,” wrote Kelly in the letter. The letter summarized the disability rights arguments against assisted suicide, with a list of problems including the impossibility of accurate diagnosis, the threat to depressed people, inevitable cost calculations, dangers for elderly people, and prejudice against disability.

Kelly wrote, “What we disabled people see in legalizing assisted suicide is that some people get suicide prevention, while others get suicide assistance, based on value judgments and prejudice.”

“We are joining our sister group Not Dead Yet UK and other advocates against this bill, which leaves vulnerable people unprotected,” said Not Dead Yet USA president Diane Coleman. Not Dead Yet UK plans to hold a rally on Friday at the House of Lords to voice opposition to the bill.

Not Dead Yet USA’s research analyst Stephen Drake blogged about UK proponents’ strategy of avoiding comparisons with the European countries with legalized euthanasia, such as Belgium, which has allowed euthanasia based on disability and has made children eligible as well.

“Instead,“ Drake wrote, “UK assisted suicide advocates have taken to pointing to the United States as a shining example of how assisted suicide can be contained and safeguarded.”

"People tend to forget that slippery slopes don't just happen,” Drake said. “Incrementalist strategies - taking planned steps toward a desired result - are commonly called ‘slippery slopes,’ but they are really political advocacy working for partial victories toward a final policy goal."

Bill HL 6 will either be defeated during the debate or, more likely, referred to a committee for more investigation.


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