Sunday, February 22, 2015

Physician-assisted suicide and ableism

I thought it very interesting how the class that was supposed to be dedicated to discussing films and representations of people with disabilities in the media, and how quickly it turned  into a pretty in-depth discussion about the hot topic issue of patient assisted suicide, something I consider to be akin to euthanasia.  It really says something about a society which condones things such as physician assisted suicide and selective abortion for  people with disabilities. These are things usually associated with the treatment of pets or other animals. We put them down for a variety of reasons, usually because we are feel sympathetic for  their pain and suffering, along with  their loss Of autonomy.  This is no less true than in  the main justification for physician-assisted suicide among humans. That would be  treating other human beings as if they were animals just because they have some "terminal" condition or disability. By legalizing physician-assisted  suicide it could lead to increases in the amount of people dying, and even create the expectation that if you have such a condition that you should put yourself out of your misery. I know this is a slippery slope position to take, but I do think it is relevant considering the history of the eugenics movement in this country up until the end  of World War II, and the recent resurgence known as neugenics which have become more prevalent in the last two decades with the emergence of prenatal testing for certain disabilities and selective abortion of those fetuses which display such tendencies.
As a student of the law to understand the liberty interest in making decisions of what to do with one's own body in decisions such as general abortion and the like. However, if it is just targeted towards one particular group of people  this shows animus toward that group, in this case people with disabilities.
Another thing which disturbed me about hearing that  Vermont would legalize physician-assisted suicide is that it would be allowable not only for a person that wants to take their own life, but also people are assigned to  Power of attorney over another can make this decision. This could lead to many more deaths, especially if the decisions being made from a utilitarian point of view where all the consideration is being made from an economic standpoint. Human beings are more than just what they are monetarily. That is why I am opposed to physician-assisted suicide since it can  reinforce the already popular idea of ableism

1 comment:

  1. I absolutely agree with you. Especially on Vermont. Vermont reminds me of Oregon, where I am from. The type of freedoms people from these two places wish for are often pretty terrible when examined under a lens of disability. For example, in Oregon, there is no regulation of homebirth midwives, because people there think that homebirth is "natural" and that one should have the "freedom" to give birth however they want. The reality is that the rate of babies dying or being born with disabilities as a result of homebirth is very high. I am disabled and proud and I don't wish to be anything but disabled, honestly. However there are pretty severe conditions that can result from homebirth, and homebirth is the reason that I am disabled.
    The same is true of the current legalization of marijuana use in the state of Oregon. Medical usage is one thing, but when it comes down to the details of marijuana legalization, there are many problems with it. I think it is the same thing with assisted suicide in a place like Vermont and of course, Oregon. People think that this is their "right", and while I am not arguing that, it is a simplistic argument to make regarding the entire legislation of things like homebirth, marijuana legalization and assisted suicide. The reality of physician assisted suicide is, in my opinion, largely unknown to people in states that vote for and support these laws. The disability rights argument is dismissed, not even considered or learned about. And that is a problem. I don't think that the public wishes to delve deeper into how these issues affect those who are not able-bodied, white, and middle-class.