Second Thoughts - Disability Rights Advocates Against Assisted Suicide

Blog > The personal IS political

Submitted by Amy Hasbrouck

One of the most common things people say when refusing to oppose assisted suicide is that the issue is personal. Well, no it isn't.

First of all, society has already made it political through laws that provide funding for public health projects to study the causes of and prevent suicide. The political issue for people with disabilities is whether suicide prevention is equally available to folks with disabilities.

Secondly, by proposing a law that would allow assisted suicide for certain people, supporters are taking suicide out of the personal and into the political arena. Having done that, it's strange for them to come back and say that it's a personal matter.

It's also a political issue because of the reasons that cause ill and disabled people to consider suicide in the first place. Denial of medical treatment or insurance coverage for an illness, cuts to in-home services that force people into institutions, inadequate palliative care, are all factors in depriving people of control of their lives, causing unnecessary pain, limiting choices and pushing them toward wanting to die. All of these problems are the result of political decisions.

Finally, if question 2 becomes law, the provisions of the law might become subject to access mandates found in the Americans with Disabilities Act. So while supporters "guarantee" that the law is not supposed to be available to people with disabilities, access requirements of the ADA could force state authorities to make assisted suicide widely and easily available to disabled people.

So the next time someone says "suicide is a personal matter..." You'll know better.

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