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TODAY, Action Needed! Stop Assisted Suicide Resolution in Evanston, Illinois

 

February 10, 2020 | by Amber Smock

Dear Access Living friends and allies,

Tonight, the City of Evanston is expected to vote on a proposed resolution in support of assisted suicide. Disability advocates from the group Not Dead Yet spoke out in opposition to the resolution last week in a committee hearing. See this link for their response, featuring disability advocate and Evanston resident Larry Biondi. Proponents hope that approval of this resolution by Evanston City Council will set the stage for support for statewide legislation to legalize assisted suicide.

As disability advocates, we need your help TODAY to let Evanston City Council know that this resolution will harm people with disabilities. Here is an easy action alert link to contact the members of the Council to let them know why they should vote “no” on the resolution on Monday.

Access Living has long opposed the introduction of government legislation and resolutions in support of assisted suicide. This is a deeply controversial topic regarding whether a person may legally commit suicide with the assistance of a doctor or another person, without criminal charges being levied against the person assisting. You may know this issue through the phrase “right to die” or “aid in dying,” but it is fundamentally assisted suicide, a process which has not overcome several dangerous implications for people with disabilities.

Access Living’s founder, Marca Bristo, was featured in this powerful captioned video in 2014 speaking out against assisted suicide. Marca was deeply aware of the profound risk that assisted suicide options pose to people with disabilities who are already held hostage by lack of access to meaningful community supports and accessible healthcare. See this page for a layout of the facts about assisted suicide, such as:

  • It can be, and has been, offered by insurance companies instead of life saving treatment
  • Terminal diagnoses are notoriously unreliable, with no assurance of consistency
  • It heightens the stigma of disabled people being a “burden” on others
  • It preys on people who are already depressed, and may be offered as a solution as opposed to suicide prevention
  • In states where assisted suicide is an option, it is overwhelmingly requested by white people (97% of requesters), which means that a fundamental part of this issue concerns white privilege in access to self-determination
  • It prompts doctor shopping
  • The lethal drugs have been known to be ingested by people for whom they were not prescribed
  • It undermines the expectation of doctors as healers
  • It increases suicides in general

We realize this is a very challenging moral, personal issue for many people. However, the lives of people with disabilities, and the quality of our healthcare system, are at stake. Assisted suicide is a false choice, not a real choice, for our community.