Assisted suicide threatens people with disabilities


Legislation has once again been introduced in Wisconsin to legalize assisted suicide.  If passed, Wisconsin legislators risk unnecessarily endangering the lives of people with disabilities.

“Assisted suicide presents a clear and present danger to the many people who struggle to access quality health care either because they can’t afford it or because they are part of a group that faces medical biases,” says Lisa Blumberg, an attorney and disability rights activist, who protested assisted-suicide legislation in Connecticut.  Legalized assisted suicide would feed prejudices many hold toward those with disabilities and stoke doubts many people have about the quality of life persons with disabilities enjoy.

People with disabilities know all too well the discrimination faced when seeking medical treatment.  Adding lethal drugs to the mixture would further devalue our very existence, leave us fighting yet another battle to save our own lives.  It would lead to further mistrust in the medical profession.   Assisted suicide would drive health insurance administrators concerned about profits to push covering the less expensive cost of assisted suicide over life-saving treatment. Please, let’s not create a system that gives preference to cheap lethal drugs over treatment.  Our disability allies deserve so much better than a society that provides insurance companies perverse incentives to deny treatment while offering cheap assisted suicide pills instead…

Wisconsin should reject any policy that leaves the door wide open for the abuse and coercion of some of the most vulnerable members of society, in particular, persons with disabilities. I urge Wisconsin lawmakers to work instead toward guaranteeing equal access to health care for all.

Read the full story at The Leader Telegram…

Jason Endres is a disability advocate in Eau Claire, WI.

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