Disabled rights advocates fight assisted suicide legislation

Anna Gorman
June 28, 2015


A bill, ABX2-15, would allow terminally-ill patients to end their lives. Advocates say that depression and incorrect prognoses can contribute to the premature death of people with disabilities.

Marilyn Golden, Policy Analyst at Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund, says that it is particularly dangerous for people with suicidal thoughts. “It would almost be too easy to make an irrevocable choice,” she said. “It could lead to people giving up on treatment and losing good years of their lives.” Golden indicated that many people who were given a terminal diagnosis “lived full lives (for) years or even decades” longer than their prognosis.

Advocates say there aren’t enough protective policies in place through the bill. Deborah Doctor, a legislative advocate for Disability Rights California, wrote that abuse and coercion at the hands family members could cause people facing these decisions to not act in their best interests, and potentially end their life.

“Everyone is not Brittany Maynard,” Doctor said in an interview, noting that the Brittany Maynard’s family supported what she wanted. “Our responsibility is to think of people who are the most vulnerable to coercion, abuse and pressure.” Doctor also thinks that doctors can be wrong about someone’s prognosis and time left to live. Insurance companies can deny treatment for people with disabilities because of the cost of care.

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Organizations mentioned/involved: Disability Rights California (DRC)
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