Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Final Exit Network + Ableism = Danger

Because I object to expressions of ableism I have been asked why? What's the big deal that people don't respect or value disability? What harm really comes from it?

Where do I begin to answer this???

Every societal barrier people with disabilities face from lack of physical accessibility to seclusion and exclusion from the benefits other people routinely expect (education, jobs, community living, etc)stem from this--at best this leads to lack of respect and access, played out to its worst, it is dangerous. And no, I am not exagerating.

Final Exit Network: A Georgia-based organization, apparently with branches all over who believe in assisted suicide for all. Their methods include a bag over the head and someone to hold (?down) your hands in case you change your mind.

Disgusting and really creepy.

They do lots of spin about death with dignity and by their definition dignity means control and ease--not perserverance, not self-lessness, not heroism, not bravery, not goodness--just control. They do lots of spin about dying pain-free as if pain can't be managed in people who are dying--which it usually can (I am a nurse who works in chronic care. I have done lots of end-of-life care and very few people die in pain, AND we don't ever resort to killing anyone. Of course if for some reason you want people to die who aren't terminally ill, I suppose you would have to...)

Ableism: The belief that disability renders life not worth living and people who have disabilities less valuable than others.

Ableism can be so strong that parents will help their child die rather than help them live with a disability. (As a parent, I can't even picture this, but here is the story. Now, maybe this guy was so miserable or so unable to deal with life that his parents would have helped him kill himself at some point anyway, but it seems to be about disability, doesn't it?)

And the scary part is that when people with disabilities run into temporary issues that make their expression of their wishes difficult, OTHERS may take matters into their own hands--because the message that death is better than disability has been so well marketed.

This quote from C.S. Lewis comes to mind:

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience

(Quote from here: http://www.quotationspage.com/quote/33029.html)


Stephen Drake said...

And you're not safe in Rochester, either. One of the "respectable" leaders of the assisted suicide movement is right her in Rochester. Timothy Quill is the Director of the Palliative Care program at the UofR Medical Center. In yesterday's blog on NDY, I described how he went from "spin" to "lying" (or an unbelievable degree of ignorance) about the relationship of Final Exit Network activities and the assisted suicide laws in Oregon and Washington State.

Terri said...

Thank you, Stephen for your work on this issue.

(And for helping me find one of my links for this post, I appreciate the help!)