Killing Us Softly: The Dangers of Legalizing Assisted Suicide
Disability and health journal 2010 Jan; 3(1): 16-30
This article is an overview of the problems with the legalization of assisted suicide as public policy. The disability community's opposition to assisted suicide stems in part from factors that directly impact the disability community as well as all of society. These factors include the secrecy in which assisted suicide operates today, in states where it is legal; the lack of robust oversight and the absence of investigation of abuse; the reality of who uses it; the dangerous potential of legalization to further erode the quality of the U.S. health care system; and its potential for other significant harms. Legalizing assisted suicide would augment real dangers that negate genuine choice and self-determination. In view of this reality, we explore many of the disability-related effects of assisted suicide, while also addressing the larger social context that inseparably impacts people with disabilities and the broader public. First, after addressing common misunderstandings, we examine fear and bias toward disability, and the deadly interaction of assisted suicide and our profit-driven health care system. Second, we review the practice of assisted suicide in Oregon, the first U.S. state to legalize it, and debunk the merits of the so-called Oregon model. Third and finally, we explore the ways that so-called "narrow" assisted suicide proposals threaten inevitable expansion.
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