“Second Thoughts” Disability Rights Group Opposes Assisted Suicide in MA

by The Center for Bioethics and Culture on March 6, 2012

By Wesley J. Smith, J.D., Special Consultant to the CBC

Disability rights activists are indomitable opponents of legalizing assisted suicide and an essential constituency in the diverse and broad-based coalition that opposes the death agenda. Now, a new DR organization has been founded to fight against the pending Massachusetts initiative that could bring legalized assisted suicide to the Bay State. From the press release:

Disability rights activists from across Massachusetts will speak today before the Massachusetts legislature’s joint Judiciary Committee in opposition to a ballot question that would legalize assisted suicide. The activists are members of the recently formed group, Second Thoughts: People with Disabilities Opposing the Legalization of Assisted Suicide. . . “Second Thoughts is a group of disability rights activists and organizations who believe that assisted suicide is a dangerous mix with a broken, profit driven health care system,” said John Kelly, the group’s director.

“Economic and family pressures can make elderly and disabled people feel like they’re a burden,” said member Karen Schneiderman. “Under those conditions, how can a choice to commit suicide be considered a free choice?” Schneiderman said that “I don’t believe that Massachusetts voters want to pass a law that discriminates against old, ill and disabled people by singling them out for assisted suicide, while young, healthy people get suicide prevention services.” Kelly stresses that the proposed law lacks safeguards to protect elders and other vulnerable populations from abuse. “An heir can help make the request, sign as a witness and pick up the prescription. Once the lethal drug is in the home, no one will know if it’s taken voluntarily. If the person changed their mind, if they struggled, who would know?”

Media like to portray assisted suicide opponents as primarily religious or pro life. But the facts don’t fit that supposed story. Disability rights advocates — who are mostly politically liberal and secular in outlook — are essential part of the anti-assisted suicide coalition, as are medical, nursing, and hospice professionals, few of which oppose abortion. In any event, go Second Thoughts!

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