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Assisted Suicide: Double standard for people with disabilities

by | Oct 14, 2014

 

By Alex Schadenberg, executive director and international chair, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

SCofCanada5The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) produced a series of interviews to be aired prior to the Supreme Court of Canada case that will be heard tomorrow that will examine the issues of euthanasia and assisted suicide in Canada.

Today, CBC aired this program concerning the position of people with disabilities on the issues. Its intent (as the headline suggests) is to prove there is a “divide in disabled community” over “doctor-assisted suicide.”

The program features: Stephen Fletcher, the Conservative MP who is promoting two bills to decriminalize euthanasia and assisted suicide in Canada, and Taylor Hyatt, a Carlton University student who lives with cerebral palsy.

The CBC program presents Hyatt’s position in this manner:

“Fletcher’s desire to improve access to physician-assisted suicide does not match the policies of groups such as the Council of Canadians with Disabilities. Fletcher’s stance also contradicts that of Taylor Hyatt, a 22-year-old student at Carleton University.

“Hyatt, who is also a member of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair. She worries pushing for physician-assisted suicide will affect society’s impression of people with disabilities, suggesting some will think people are ‘better off dead than disabled.’

“Hyatt said there is a double standard when it comes to people with disabilities and physician-assisted suicide, and Fletcher’s bill would not help.

“’It’s like you’re standing at the edge of a cliff … as an able-bodied person, the population will extend its hand to you to say, ‘Here there’s help for you,'” Hyatt said. ‘I feel like for the disabled population, they’ll push you over.”

The Council of Canadians with Disabilities and the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition are both intervening before the Supreme Court of Canada and are both asking the court to uphold Canada’s current laws protecting Canadians from euthanasia and assisted suicide.