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Tributes to Dr Kevin Fitzpatrick OBE

As you know our dear friend and colleague Kevin Fitzpatrick passed away on Thursday the 14th of January. His funeral will take place Friday 29th January at 9.30am a mass will be held at Our Lady Star of the Sea Mumbles Swansea followed by cremation at Margam Crematorium Port Talbot at 12 noon.

Below we have posted tributes to Kevin written and posted by his many friends and colleagues.

Messages from Commissioners who served with Kevin on the Disability Rights Commission

“We will all miss you, Kevin.  A stalwart in the fight for the dignity and rights of disabled people, as well as a fine colleague at the Disability Rights Commission and more generally. .  And with whom can I now also have good humoured but stimulating conversations about Wittgenstein, beer and Manchester United?  A very sad loss.  Bob Niven”

Bob Niven”

This is sad news indeed. When I last spoke to Kevin he thought he was in remission. He was a remarkable man who had a remarkable journey. He became disabled through a stray bullet when he was in Northern Ireland.  He worked for the Shaw Trust but left because he disagreed with many of their policies.  When he joined the DRC he had limited campaigning experience but what a campaigner he became! He brought his intellectual rigor to the DRC and we all benefitted from that ­ Ludwig Wittgenstein will never be the same! In his academic career he worked on the assessment of employability of disabled people but thought there was a negative hidden agenda and moved on. He was right, of course. He was always a man of principle. And of course in recent years he has had an international profile in raising the case against assisted suicide. Yet again his intellectual power combined with his humanity made him an excellent advocate.  He did this while coping with his cancer.  Had he survived I think he would have added to his list of achievements.  He will certainly be missed.

Bert Massie

I have really admired Kevin’s intellectual capacity, and the deep thought he put in to the arguments he made for or against issues.  He struggled valiantly to help me understand Plato’s philosophical teachings, to assist me with my course.  That was so typical of Kevin, because he helped so many people in a quiet unpretentious way.  I remember his humanity when talking to him about many of the campaigns and issues he pursued, always thinking of others challenges and only sharing his own with a chosen few because he was a private man in many ways.  Finally, I smile when remembering chewing the fat with him one night at the Novotel in Euston, in the DRC Commission days, something about the battle of the Boyne, the Irish rebellion, etc.  Kevin decided to have a cigar with his malt whisky, and when presented with a large tray of hugely expensive cigars, he chose what he thought was the cheapest one, just £7, and nearly fainted when the bill came and he had missed a 3 and the cigar was £37!  He said he would have smoked it more slowly if he had known.

Elaine Noad

I remember and treasure Kevin’s kindness and generosity to me when I joined the DRC and his efforts to ensure that I was always included in discussions outside of the meetings. He will be sadly missed by his friends and family but also by disabled people for whom he fought so valiantly. Susan Daniels

Susan Daniels

I will long remember the enjoyment he had in his philosophical locking horns with Bob and the enjoyment too which we lesser mortals had in listening to them. A great man in so many ways.

John Hougham

Kevin: nice guy who always made time for others: RIP

Stephen Alambritis

I’m so sorry to hear of Kevin’s death. He was a pleasure to work with and combined humour and warmth with intellectual rigour in ways that meant his contributions were great. What a loss to disabled people’s activism for change

Liz Sayce

I’m so sorry to hear this news, I had no idea. Although I didn’t know Kevin as well as most of you, what stood out for me on top of his obvious intellect, was his integrity and sense of fun. He will be sadly missed.

Tim Escudier

Thank you for including me amongst those you have notified concerning the passing of Kevin last night. As I was invited to attend the DRC lunch in May (which you unfortunately were unable to be present) I had the opportunity to meet up with Kevin again after some 7/8 years. A very pleasant re-acquaintance with him recollecting some of the  issues we had “chased” together, including sporting moments! I had been aware of his health concerns for a long time, indeed from the early days. It is sad and poignant from my point of view as my first wife died in Swansea 40 years ago next week. Nevertheless he was able to make a considerable contribution to the causes he espoused and cherished.  His friendship will endure-he not be forgotten.

Peter Humphrey
This was a great shock – I had no idea.  I’m glad that I had the opportunity to renew my acquaintance with Kevin after some years at our DRC lunch last May when we had a lively conversation about assisted dying.  If you are able, please pass on my condolences.

This was a great shock – I had no idea.  I’m glad that I had the opportunity to renew my acquaintance with Kevin after some years at our DRC lunch last May when we had a lively conversation about assisted dying.  If you are able, please pass on my condolences.

Colin Low

The last time I saw Kevin was about a year ago when we met up for dlc reunion, he seemed quite fine, it just shows what life is all about.  I never ever felt like I had a learning disability with Kevin, he always spoke to me like an adult.  One of the lessons I learnt from Kevin was when  Burt asked me if their was an injection to get rid of my learning disability and I said no, I asked Kevin if he would have an injection and he said yes, he do anything to get rid of his pain.  I soon learnt when I had kidney stones, I then realised what Kevin was on about I too would do anything  to get rid of my pain.  Thanks for letting us know from

Eve Bennett

Messages on Facebook 

Alex Schadenberg from Canada,

“My good friend and colleague, Dr Kevin Fitzpatrick, passed away today. I will truly miss this great man who cared about others and who was intellectually clear. Kevin worked over the past year as the Director of EPC International and he founded HOPE Ireland.

Jane CampbellIt is with great sadness that I am writing to tell our that our dear friend and colleague, Kevin Fitzpatrick died last night in Swansea, surrounded by his family. You may have already heard about this tragic news but Kevin specifically asked me to let his NDY UK friends know when the time came. Kevin has been very private about his battle with cancer as he didn’t want others to worry about him or let his illness detract from his tireless work to prevent the legalisation of assisted suicide. Selfless to the end.  

It is with great sadness that I am writing to tell our that our dear friend and colleague, Kevin Fitzpatrick died last night in Swansea, surrounded by his family. You may have already heard about this tragic news but Kevin specifically asked me to let his NDY UK friends know when the time came. Kevin has been very private about his battle with cancer as he didn’t want others to worry about him or let his illness detract from his tireless work to prevent the legalisation of assisted suicide. Selfless to the end.  I know Kevin will be greatly missed by all Kill the Bill campaigners. Missed for, among other attributes, his larger-than-life personality, intellectual rigour, vitality, humour and genuine warmth. A sad loss to all of us, and the thousands of disabled people’s lives he touched as he fought for our humanity to be valued equally, no matter what our impairment or illness. The “NO Legalisation” has lost one of it’s greatest advocates.

This time last year, a bunch of us NDYUKers were outside the House of Lords protesting against the Falconer AS Bill. Some of us were physically there and 80 more people who couldn’t attend instead gave their words and images to be used in giant yellow placards. It was a powerful and effective demo and I shall cherish the memory even more because I got to share the picket line with Kevin Fitzpatrick who many of you will now know, died in the last few hours.

Kevin’s passionate opposition to AS, his philosophical understanding of the issues, his humour, intelligence, optimism, energy, sense of justice and of course, his great company are some of the many things that I am going to miss.
I am so proud of Kevin’s decision to keep his private life private. During the past year, he decided that he didn’t want to be the pin up for disabled people’s opposition to AS – despite the immense pressure from the media to talk about our impairments and illnesses to gain precious column inches and air time. He was a man of great integrity.
Kevin was a bloody lovely man whose life and death epitomised the true meaning of ‘dignity’.

Catherine Garrod
Oh that is so very sad. I had so many interesting conversations with Kevin. That’s such a sad loss for our community and for the disabled people’s movement.

Phil Friend

Such sad news. An important light has gone out of our lives. I will really miss Kevin.

Paul Saunders from Care Not Killing has written a tribute to Kevin Fitzpatrick here is the link  Tribute to Kevin Fitzpatrick

Tanni Grey-Thompson

Thank you so much for letting me know….  I first met Kevin in my early 20’s – he was the first ‘political’ disabled person I met.  He left a lasting impression on me
Messages on Twitter

‘The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition: ‘We mourn the death of Dr Kevin Fitzpatrick, who was the director of EPC International, the founder of HOPE Ireland and a leader of Not Dead Yet UK. One of Kevin’s best articles is: Opposition to euthanasia is based on evidence of disability discrimination.’

‘Care Not Killing: remembers a great advocate, campaigner & friend.’

Very sad news, one of our strongest & best campaigners has died. Kevin Fitzpatrick helped set up @notdeadyetuk We’ve lost a great friend.’

We’ve lost one of our brightest stars’

‘ Kevin Fitzpatrick – Staunch, warm, passionate in fighting euthanasia.’ Wendy Wicks

‘Our dear friend & fellow fighter Dr Kevin Fitzpatrick has died’ Care Not Killing

‘So sad. A huge loss’. Neil Crowther

‘Sad to learn of the death of anti-euthanasia campaigner Kevin Fitzpatrick. A powerful and articulate advocate’ Disability Now magazine       ‘Sad news. Kevin was a great man’ Robert Colquhoun

‘Sad news. Kevin was a great man’ Robert Colquhoun ‘We are very sorry indeed to hear the news about Kevin’  Breakthrough UK

‘We are very sorry indeed to hear the news about Kevin’  Breakthrough UK

Caroline Simons (lawyer): ‘Dr Kevin Fitzpatrick OBE was an inspiration. It was a privilege to have met him. RIP’

Neil Fox: ‘Kevin Fitzpatrick of Hope Ireland promoting a culture of life and empowerment for all. #disability #promotehope RIP’

Tracy Proudlock: ‘The world had gained much from his knowledge and insight. RIP’

Hope Ireland have written this message:

We are saddened to report the untimely death of our founder and friend, Dr. Kevin Fitzpatrick. Kevin was a tireless supporter of disability rights, an articulate and gifted advocate and a dear friend to all who knew him. He will be missed. Hope Ireland extends its condolences to his family and many friends. May he rest in peace. We will honor his legacy by continuing his campaign to protect the most vulnerable in our society and thank you for your support for our work.

 

 

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An Immodest Proposal by Don Brand

Many of you will have heard the New Years Day interview that Baroness Jane Campbell had with Matthew Parris when she was guest editor for the BBC Radio 4 Today programme. Our supporters expressed considerable anger around Parris’s central assertion that the economy could not sustain the high costs of looking after dependent older and disabled people. In this thoughtful article, Don Brand questions Parris’s assertion.

An Immodest proposal

Dean Swift and the Scandal of Poverty in Ireland

In 1729, Jonathan Swift, Dean of St Patrick’s, Dublin, published a pamphlet he called “A Modest Proposal”. In reasoned tones, he set out his novel solution to the problems of extreme poverty in Ireland. The pamphlet’s full title is A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People From Being a Burthen to Their Parents or Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Publick.

Swift’s proposal is that the impoverished Irish might ease their economic troubles by selling their children as food for rich gentlemen and ladies. “A young healthy child well nursed, is, at a year old, a most delicious nourishing and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricassee, or a ragout.”

Swift knew his proposal would give offence to his readers. He intended to shock them into recognising the severe effects of grinding poverty on the Irish people among whom he lived: the desperate measures it provoked, the evil consequences in blighted lives, starvation and criminality.

But Swift also managed to convey, to those with ears to hear, sustained irony. Alongside his savage case for refined cannibalism, he follows the style of the Roman satirist Juvenal in purporting to dismiss the solutions he really believes in.

Therefore let no man talk to me of other expedients: Of taxing our absentees at five shillings a pound: Of using neither clothes, nor household furniture, except what is of our own growth and manufacture: Of curing the expensiveness of pride, vanity, idleness, and gaming in our women: Of introducing a vein of parsimony, prudence and temperance: Of learning to love our country, Of being a little cautious not to sell our country and consciences for nothing: Of teaching landlords to have at least one degree of mercy towards their tenants. Lastly, of putting a spirit of honesty, industry, and skill into our shop-keepers………

Therefore I repeat, let no man talk to me of these and the like expedients, ’till he hath at least some glympse of hope, that there will ever be some hearty and sincere attempt to put them into practice.

Matthew Parris and “Useless People” leading “Fruitless Lives”

Before Christmas, the commentator Matthew Parris published an article in the Spectator, setting out his own proposal for tackling a central problem of an ageing population: the rising costs of meeting their health and care needs, placing a growing burden on the economically active. His article appeared under the title Some day soon we’ll all accept that useless lives should be ended. When interviewed by Baroness Campbell on the Today programme on New Year’s Day, Parris’s attempt to defend his views was a fine example of the comedy of embarrassment.picture of Matthew Parris

It would be reassuring to think Matthew Parris sees himself as a latter-day Dean Swift, making his own Modest Proposal for our contemporary times. For Parris has looked into his crystal ball, foreseen rapidly rising numbers of disabled and older people, concluded the cost of their care will bankrupt the country, and come up with a radical solution.

He argues that the rising cost of health and care services for this growing number is well on the way to becoming unaffordable:

There are 11 million disabled people in Britain. As the proportion of our population disabled by old age increases, the figure can only rise. The result — we see it already as our health service struggles — is that an ever heavier burden falls on proportionately ever fewer wage-earning shoulders.

The mention of “wage-earning shoulders” blithely ignores the £17.5 billion income tax paid by pensioners. With the same reasoned tone as Swift, Parris walks us step by step towards his Modest Proposal. First, Kipling-like, he invokes the well-being of the tribe:

Tribes that handicap themselves will not prosper. As medical science advances, the cost of prolonging human life way past human usefulness will impose an ever heavier burden on the community for an ever longer proportion of its members’ lives. Already we are keeping people alive in a near-vegetative state. ………..Like socialist economics, this will place a handicap on our tribe. Already the cost of medical provision in Britain eats into our economic competitiveness against less socially generous nations.

 The sleight of hand embodied in that last sentence – how much is Britain’s economic competitiveness “eaten into” by medical costs, compared with, say, our low productivity rate? With which “less socially generous nations” is Parris comparing us? – continues in the next paragraph:

As costs rise, there will be a point at which our culture (and any culture) will begin to call for a restraining hand. I believe that when it comes to the cost of keeping very enfeebled people alive when life has become wretched for them, we’re close to that point.

So the case for euthanasia as a solution to excessive costs to the Exchequer is dressed up as a kindness to “very enfeebled people” whose life has become “wretched for them”. And the drastic shift of culture this entails is now presented with almost Marxist historical inevitability:

I don’t even say we should look more benignly upon the termination of life when life is fruitless. I say we will. We may not be aware that our moral attitudes are being driven by the Darwinian struggle for survival, but in part they will be. And just as we feel ourselves looking more sympathetically at those who wish to end it all, so we shall be (unconsciously) looking at ourselves in the same way. The stigma will fade, and in its place will come a new description of selfishness, according to which it may be thought selfish of some individuals (including potentially ourselves) to want to carry on.

Parris and Malthus

Thomas MalthusParris evidently believes he is saying something new, observing a phenomenon others have failed to perceive. But his basic argument is the same as that of Thomas Malthus more than 2 centuries ago about over-population. Malthus argued that unchecked population growth would outstrip the ability to feed people, and the solution lay in preventive or positive checks of one form or another. He believed in “positive checks”, which lead to ‘premature’ death: disease, starvation, war, resulting in what is called a “Malthusian catastrophe”. The catastrophe would return population to a lower, more “sustainable”, level.

Parris has simply created a special case of this general theory, arguing that unchecked growth of disabled and older people is already outstripping the means to treat, support and care for them. He’s not brought the food supply into the debate yet, but presumably his grotesque dystopian vision of large-scale euthanasia would be carried through “humanely” by gradually restricting the intake of food and drink allowed to the “useless” people. This system has already been piloted in The Liverpool Care Pathway.

Implementing the Parris Solution

It is said that every crisis represents an opportunity. How would Parris’s drastic solution be implemented? A process would be needed for selecting the people who are going to be shunted into this particular siding. One obvious mechanism would be application of NICE’s methodology of QALYs, but with a much lower tariff. NICE regards annual treatment costs of £30k per person as a reasonable value to put on a life. For “useless people” Parris would presumably want a much lower figure, preferably well below £10k.

The processing could be put out to tender. Several of the big-name firms versed in delivering public services for profit could make a good case for having the necessary skills (and friends in high places). Proper appeals machinery would also be required at several points in the process, perhaps through a Useless People’s Tribunal Service. As Parris evidently thinks other developed nations with ageing populations will see the logic of his argument and the attractiveness of his proposals, the Tribunal could quickly go international. Its Chair might well be willing to let the UK have the service at below cost, if it acts as a loss-leader for business with other rich nations.

Is there an alternative?

None of this might be necessary, of course, if instead of trying to eliminate the excess of people using the NHS and social care, we pursued greatly increased productivity and efficiency. This would involve producing better, more effective health and social care at significantly lower unit cost.

This could be helped by tackling three of the big dysfunctional features of the NHS: its inability to control the drugs bill, and blatant exploitation by the drugs companies; its toleration of entrenched protectionism by the main health professions; and its lack of a coherent research investment strategy. The allocation of research funding is based on a beauty contest of health conditions. The gross discrepancy between the NHS and social care in the levels of state research funding they receive is just one symptom of this lack of a strategy.

Lip service is regularly paid to these objectives; and Parris might echo the ironic doubts expressed by Swift about whether “there will ever be some hearty and sincere attempt to put them into practice.” But promoting them would surely be a better use of his genuine talents than continuing with his wrong-headed and nihilistic campaign to foster a climate in which mass euthanasia becomes a social good.

The intelligent man who spouts nonsense is a sad spectacle. The commentator who fails to connect the elimination of “useless” people with events in Europe 75 years ago has lost his moral compass. The normally astute journalist, frustrated that a slightly-built disabled woman consistently has better arguments than he does, makes a fool of himself as he blunders from one mistaken point to another untruth. Isn’t it time the referee stopped the fight?

 

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Dr Kevin Fitzpatrick OBE RIP

Baroness Campbell passed on the news that our close colleague and friend Dr Kevin Fitzpatrick OBE passed away on Thursday 14th January 2016.

In her note she said “It is with great sadness that I am writing to tell you that our dear colleague and friend, Kevin Fitzpatrick died last night in Swansea, surrounded by his family. You may have already heard about this tragic news but Kevin specifically asked me to let his NDY UK friends know when the time came. Kevin has been very private about his battle with cancer as he didn’t want others to worry about him or let his illness detract from his tireless work to prevent the legalisation of assisted suicide. Selfless to the end.

 

 I know Kevin will be greatly missed by all Kill the Bill campaigners. Missed for, among other attributes, his larger-than-life personality, intellectual rigour, vitality, humour and genuine warmth. A sad loss to all of us, and the thousands of  disabled people’s lives he touched as he fought for our humanity to be valued equally, no matter what our impairment or illness. The “NO Legalisation” has lost one of it’s  greatest advocates.”

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Court allows woman with signs of consciousness to die

Landmark as Court of Protection rules food and fluids can be withdrawn from MS patient in “Minimally Conscious State”

A judge has ordered doctors to remove life-sustaining support from a multiple sclerosis (MS) patient, despite the fact that she is still partially conscious.

In a landmark ruling, Mr Justice Hayden said that a 68-year-old woman known only as Mrs N should have tubes which she relies on for nourishment and hydration removed, after describing her life as “profoundly humiliating”.

The decision led to fears about its implications, with one MP describing it as “bringing in euthanasia by the back door”.

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Judicial Review Royal Courts of Justice 16th November

Many of you will remember that earlier in the year at a short hearing in London, Nikki and Merv Kenward were granted permission to proceed with the judicial review of the DPP’s new policy on the grounds that she had made the law more liberal and that the legality of the change should be scrutinised.  We have heard the hearing is to take place at the Royal Courts of Justice in London on the 16th of November from 9 am

Nikki and Merv are calling for people to show support by attending a rally on the day. Dignity in Dying are expected to have a presence, the Humanist Society may also turn up.

If you can help in any way or want more details please contact Nikki or Merv 07780 476 714 or email mervkenward@gmail.com

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UK MP’s throw out Assisted Suicide Bill

MPs have rejected plans for a right to die in England and Wales in their first vote on the issue in almost 20 years. In a free vote in the Commons, 118 MPs were in favour and 330 against plans to allow some terminally ill adults to end their lives with medical supervision.

After a passionate debate, MP’s overwhelmingly voted against with many saying that vulnerable people would have no protection and would be put at great risk.

Under the proposed legislation people with fewer than six months to live could have been prescribed a lethal dose of drugs, which they had to be able to take themselves. Two doctors and a High Court judge would have needed to approve each case.

Not Dead Yet UK wants to place on record its grateful thanks to all those who supported our campaign. We are a tiny organisation with very limited resources but we have determination, passion and commitment and these won the day.

We can now reflect on a job well done and think about the future in a much more positive way.

We will keep you informed of any new developments on this subject and will be discussing the future of Not Dead Yet UK. If you have any thoughts regarding our future direction please let us know.

 

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URGENT ACTION NOTICE – NOT DEAD YET UK …11th September

09:00 – 2:30pm, Friday 11th September.

Old Palace Yard (Opposite the House of Lords), Parliament, Westminster, London SW1A 0AA.

JOIN THE FIGHT TO PROTECT OUR LIVES!

Not Dead Yet UK supported by many other Disabled People’s Organisations will protest against Rob Marris’ MP Assisted Suicide Bill while it is being debated in the House of Commons. We need to stop the Bill now – it will be much more difficult at a later stage.

We need EVERYONE WHO CAN to support us in responding peacefully, in large numbers, to this campaign so that Parliament is left in no doubt that assisted suicide is not the answer.

Many people who are also personally affected by the Assisted Suicide Bill’s contents cannot join us outside the house of Commons. There are other ways you can help. Contact you MP now and share your concern.

WHY PROTEST AGAINST THE ASSISTED SUICIDE BILL?

Many ‘terminally ill’  and disabled people are deeply concerned about the proposed changes to the law on assisted suicide. We will not gain rights, we will lose rights! If the Assisted Suicide Bill becomes law, our lives will be less protected, and our sense of vulnerability will be increased. Disabled People’s Organisations the BMA and many others are opposed to this Bill and are agreed that what disabled people need is the resources to live as independently as possible and the best palliative care possible when we need it.

We shall be gathering between 9:00 and 9:30am ready for the MP’s arrival at 10am.

The vote is due to take place at 2:30pm and and we will remain until we know the result.

Remember you will be outside all day so come prepared! We can provide T Shirts, placards unless you have your own!

Please share this notice, join us on 11th Sept.

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‘What is the real motive of people making spurious claims about disabled people’s support for euthanasia/assisted suicide? Dr Ke

In ‘Real disability activists and masquerades’ (still available here on Not Dead Yet UK’s website) I countered the spurious claim that 75% of disabled people support assisted suicide/euthanasia. The so-called ‘poll’ from which that nonsense figure ‘appeared’ was the British Social Attitudes (BSA) Survey 2007. That survey yielded no information of the kind, and did not even mention: assisted suicide or euthanasia or ‘dignity’. So the claim, based on that work, had to be simple propaganda.

A follow-up poll, commissioned by promoters of euthanasia/assisted suicide law in Britain, asked four questions, three of which were simplistic one-liners. But ‘Question’ 1 was a long rehearsal of the proposals of the Falconer Bill. It could and should have been divided into at least 7 different questions. So to ask ‘Do you agree with assisted dying?’ at the end of that  much detail was also sheer nonsense – no-one could be clear what they were answering – and especially when the word ‘suicide’ was replaced by ‘dying’ to confuse matters.

This continues to beg the question ‘What is the real motive of people making spurious claims about disabled people’s support for euthanasia/assisted suicide?’ The pro-euthanasia/assisted suicide lobby continue to claim (now 80%) support amongst disabled people, but consistently ignore the majority opinion as expressed through Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs), that such laws are not just dangerous, they threaten disabled people most of all.|

The other rather stupid claim they make is that a press to legalise euthanasia/assisted suicide has nothing to do with disability matters – yet they constantly play on the most severely disabled people as ‘piteous’ throughout their use of the media to promote their aims. This contradicts their every protest that disabled people will be safe, especially now when the most recent publicly shared deaths are not of terminally ill people, nor of disabled people but those people who declare they are so afraid of becoming disabled they would rather die. We who have lived disabled lives for many years can only watch as those with virtually no experience of being disabled reinforce the worst of these false messages ‘Being disabled is a fate worse than death’. We wonder who has been advising these people, leading them to believe this is, or must be true, and to take their lives?

Constantly portraying disabled people, and severely disabled people, as the most ‘pitiful’ examples of people who need such a law is more than false – it is a morally abhorrent when it leads people to kill themselves based on the fear of being disabled.

The pro-euthanasia/assisted suicide lobby wilfully ignore any evidence that does not suit their aim. Anyone involved in survey work will say tell you that the answers you get in polls depends on how you word your questions. The evidence of the Com Res Poll published in the Telegraph July 19 2014 showed categorically that the slight change to more honest language results in a massive drop in those supporting assisted suicide down immediately to 43%. The poll conducted by SCOPE around the same time reflected much more accurately the fears disabled people really do have about such legislation.

Therefore, it remains somewhat beyond belief that a lobby for assisted suicide can claim any view on behalf of all disabled people, never mind a massive majority in favour of their proposed law.

NDY UK on the other hand, like NDY US, is a network of disabled people working largely pro bono who have been mandated to represent the views of many disabled people. And still to-date, the majority of DPOs (UK, US, Australia, New Zealand, as well as others) – are either entirely against or have huge reservations about such a law.

Those involved with Not Dead Yet UK have a long and collective history of representing large numbers of disabled people’s rights through democratic structures and processes, and continue to seek the views of those numbers of disabled people. The world of legitimate disability activism is required to do this: it is called democracy.

But the promoters of euthanasia/assisted suicide have a clear strategy: keep repeating the lie that a majority (disabled people or otherwise) want this law, and the public will begin to believe it is so. But where is the evidence? The real evidence?

There actually isn’t any.

And the evidence we do have goes against their claims, even in their preferred model operating in Oregon and Washington State, where most people say they want to die because they do not want ‘to be a burden on others’ (40% in Oregon, 61% in Washington State).

At the tip of reality, people with dementia are dying in Belgium as are people with mental health issues – people on medication known to bring suicidal ideation or a 24 year old woman with no other health issues, as we saw just recently. Disabled new-born babies in Groningen Holland are being euthanised, and all those in the USA who ‘feel’ themselves to be a burden.

They pro-euthanasia/assisted suicide lobby know full-well that any such law in Britain will mean that innocent people will die, and first among equal candidates are disabled people.

I have repeated over some years now that any law must, by its nature, be general, covering every citizen. Which is also why it makes no sense for the pro-lobby to make a special case for disabled people. The law will be there for not just the fewer than one thousand, but each and every one out of the six hundred thousand who die in the UK every year.

But then where are the voices of the majority who do not wish to commit suicide? Where do they find justice – democracy? And the families of the five thousand, mostly younger men who commit suicide every year? How are their voices heard in this moral scrum for supposed individual choice? Despair is the end of all choice: when someone says, for whatever reason – disability or financial ruin or one of the thousand other things that drive people to despair – ‘I cannot go on’ that is not a choice – that is the end of all choices and sometimes life itself.

Oscar Wilde famously said public opinion was ‘the attempt to organise the ignorance of the community, and to elevate it to the dignity of physical force’; Russell said that ‘One should respect public opinion in so far as is necessary to avoid starvation and to keep out of prison, but anything that goes beyond this is voluntary submission to an unnecessary tyranny’; Churchill thought there was no such thing as public opinion; only published opinion.

Relying on polls for any opinion but especially on such a grave subject is not only dangerous but downright foolish.

 

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‘What is the real motive of people making spurious claims about disabled people’s support for euthanasia/assisted suicide? Dr Ke

In ‘Real disability activists and masquerades’ (still available here on Not Dead Yet UK’s website) I countered the spurious claim that 75% of disabled people support assisted suicide/euthanasia. The so-called ‘poll’ from which that nonsense figure ‘appeared’ was the British Social Attitudes (BSA) Survey 2007. That survey yielded no information of the kind, and did not even mention: assisted suicide or euthanasia or ‘dignity’. So the claim, based on that work, had to be simple propaganda.

A follow-up poll, commissioned by promoters of euthanasia/assisted suicide law in Britain, asked four questions, three of which were simplistic one-liners. But ‘Question’ 1 was a long rehearsal of the proposals of the Falconer Bill. It could and should have been divided into at least 7 different questions. So to ask ‘Do you agree with assisted dying?’ at the end of that  much detail was also sheer nonsense – no-one could be clear what they were answering – and especially when the word ‘suicide’ was replaced by ‘dying’ to confuse matters.

This continues to beg the question ‘What is the real motive of people making spurious claims about disabled people’s support for euthanasia/assisted suicide?’ The pro-euthanasia/assisted suicide lobby continue to claim (now 80%) support amongst disabled people, but consistently ignore the majority opinion as expressed through Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs), that such laws are not just dangerous, they threaten disabled people most of all.|

The other rather stupid claim they make is that a press to legalise euthanasia/assisted suicide has nothing to do with disability matters – yet they constantly play on the most severely disabled people as ‘piteous’ throughout their use of the media to promote their aims. This contradicts their every protest that disabled people will be safe, especially now when the most recent publicly shared deaths are not of terminally ill people, nor of disabled people but those people who declare they are so afraid of becoming disabled they would rather die. We who have lived disabled lives for many years can only watch as those with virtually no experience of being disabled reinforce the worst of these false messages ‘Being disabled is a fate worse than death’. We wonder who has been advising these people, leading them to believe this is, or must be true, and to take their lives?

Constantly portraying disabled people, and severely disabled people, as the most ‘pitiful’ examples of people who need such a law is more than false – it is a morally abhorrent when it leads people to kill themselves based on the fear of being disabled.

The pro-euthanasia/assisted suicide lobby wilfully ignore any evidence that does not suit their aim. Anyone involved in survey work will say tell you that the answers you get in polls depends on how you word your questions. The evidence of the Com Res Poll published in the Telegraph July 19 2014 showed categorically that the slight change to more honest language results in a massive drop in those supporting assisted suicide down immediately to 43%. The poll conducted by SCOPE around the same time reflected much more accurately the fears disabled people really do have about such legislation.

Therefore, it remains somewhat beyond belief that a lobby for assisted suicide can claim any view on behalf of all disabled people, never mind a massive majority in favour of their proposed law.

NDY UK on the other hand, like NDY US, is a network of disabled people working largely pro bono who have been mandated to represent the views of many disabled people. And still to-date, the majority of DPOs (UK, US, Australia, New Zealand, as well as others) – are either entirely against or have huge reservations about such a law.

Those involved with Not Dead Yet UK have a long and collective history of representing large numbers of disabled people’s rights through democratic structures and processes, and continue to seek the views of those numbers of disabled people. The world of legitimate disability activism is required to do this: it is called democracy.

But the promoters of euthanasia/assisted suicide have a clear strategy: keep repeating the lie that a majority (disabled people or otherwise) want this law, and the public will begin to believe it is so. But where is the evidence? The real evidence?

There actually isn’t any.

And the evidence we do have goes against their claims, even in their preferred model operating in Oregon and Washington State, where most people say they want to die because they do not want ‘to be a burden on others’ (40% in Oregon, 61% in Washington State).

At the tip of reality, people with dementia are dying in Belgium as are people with mental health issues – people on medication known to bring suicidal ideation or a 24 year old woman with no other health issues, as we saw just recently. Disabled new-born babies in Groningen Holland are being euthanised, and all those in the USA who ‘feel’ themselves to be a burden.

They pro-euthanasia/assisted suicide lobby know full-well that any such law in Britain will mean that innocent people will die, and first among equal candidates are disabled people.

I have repeated over some years now that any law must, by its nature, be general, covering every citizen. Which is also why it makes no sense for the pro-lobby to make a special case for disabled people. The law will be there for not just the fewer than one thousand, but each and every one out of the six hundred thousand who die in the UK every year.

But then where are the voices of the majority who do not wish to commit suicide? Where do they find justice – democracy? And the families of the five thousand, mostly younger men who commit suicide every year? How are their voices heard in this moral scrum for supposed individual choice? Despair is the end of all choice: when someone says, for whatever reason – disability or financial ruin or one of the thousand other things that drive people to despair – ‘I cannot go on’ that is not a choice – that is the end of all choices and sometimes life itself.

Oscar Wilde famously said public opinion was ‘the attempt to organise the ignorance of the community, and to elevate it to the dignity of physical force’; Russell said that ‘One should respect public opinion in so far as is necessary to avoid starvation and to keep out of prison, but anything that goes beyond this is voluntary submission to an unnecessary tyranny’; Churchill thought there was no such thing as public opinion; only published opinion.

Relying on polls for any opinion but especially on such a grave subject is not only dangerous but downright foolish.

 

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Latest updates courtesy of Living and Dying Well

[UK] ‘ECtHR declares case concerning UK ban on assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia inadmissible’ 17 July, Scottish Legal News

http://www.scottishlegal.com/2015/07/16/ecthr-declares-case-concerning-uk-ban-on-assisted-suicide-and-voluntary-euthanasia-inadmissible/

“In its decision in the case of Nicklinson and Lamb v the United Kingdom (application nos. 2478/15 and 1787/15) the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has unanimously declared the applications inadmissible. The decision is final.”

[UK] ‘Consider evidence, not just emotion on “assisted dying’’’, 16 July, The Commentator

http://www.thecommentator.com/article/5981/consider_evidence_not_just_emotion_on_assisted_dying

“While making assisted suicide easier can be made to sound seductive, it is incredibly dangerous and open to abuse. A new bill in the British parliament is both unsafe and unnecessary, says Agnes Fletcher of Living and Dying Well.”

[UK] ‘Right-to-die campaigners’ case rejected in Europe’ 16 July, BBC News

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-33547155

“A bid by UK campaigners to overturn the law on assisted dying has been rejected by the European Court of Human Rights.”

[UK] ‘Move to overturn UK assisted suicide law fails’ 16 July, The Guardian

http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/jul/16/assisted-suicide-voluntary-euthanasia-european-court-human-rights

“European court rejects applications from Jane Nicklinson, whose husband suffered from locked-in syndrome, and car crash victim Paul Lamb.”

[UK] ‘Campaigner vows to win war after right-to-die court defeat’ 16 July, BT News

https://home.bt.com/news/uk-news/right-to-die-european-court-rejects-paul-lamb-and-tony-nicklinsons-widow-case-11363992770485

“The widow of right-to-die campaigner Tony Nicklinson has said her family’s legal battle has ended after losing their case in the European Court of Human Rights – but vowed to win the war.”

[UK] ‘Actress: ‘I’m terrified by Marris’ assisted suicide Bill’ 16 July, The Christian Institute

http://www.christian.org.uk/news/actress-im-terrified-by-marris-assisted-suicide-bill/

“Disabled actress and comedian Liz Carr has given a powerful speech against proposals to introduce assisted suicide during an address for anti-euthanasia organisation Not Dead Yet UK.”

[UK] ‘Daughters forced to cancel fundraising party to send their motor-neurone-stricken mother to Dignitas after police warn they could be prosecuted for assisted suicide’ 16 July, The Daily Mail

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3164220/Daughters-forced-cancel-fundraising-party-send-motor-neurone-stricken-mother-Dignitas-police-warn-prosecuted-assisted-suicide.html#ixzz3gA45oYxg

“Two daughters were forced to cancel a fundraising evening to raise money for their mother to travel to Dignitas after police warned they could be prosecuted.”

[UK] ‘Scots target assisted dying after winning hunt battle’ 15 July, The Times

http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/politics/article4498157.ece

“The SNP is considering an ambush on assisted dying as part of a war of attrition by Nicola Sturgeon over the treatment of her MPs in the Commons.”

[UK] ‘Flaws evident in Assisted Dying Bill’ 15 July, South Wales Echo

http://www.walesonline.co.uk/incoming/south-wales-echo-letters-wednesday-9659343

“Are proponents of this Bill naïve enough to believe this Bill will be only contained to the terminally ill? The sad, but inescapable, conclusion is that today, in our advanced Western society, the individual is increasingly only seen as being of value so long as he or she remains “useful”.”

[NZ] ‘Survey doesn’t show doctors’ views’ 14 July, New Zealand Radio News

http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/278712/survey-doesn’t-show-doctors’-views-nzma

“Nearly 12 percent of general practitioners surveyed by the magazine New Zealand Doctor say they have helped a terminally ill person die. But the New Zealand Medical Association says the survey does not reflect doctors’ views.”

[USA] ‘As assisted suicide laws spread, cancer survivors, disabled object’ 13 July, McClatchy DC

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/nation-world/national/article26972707.html

“Imani Sippio, and her mother Chasity Phillips in Abita Springs, La., on June 17th, 2015. In 2002, Phillips was diagnosed with incurable bone cancer in her chest; despite being terminally ill, she has managed to live a rich, full life with pain management. “There was nothing I wasn’t willing to do to have one more day with my child,” said Phillips of her diagnosis.”

[UK] ‘Shadow disability minister admits backing assisted suicide bill’, 13 July, Disability News Service:

http://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/shadow-disability-minister-admits-backing-assisted-suicide-bill/

The shadow disability minister has admitted that many disabled activists may be “horrified” and “outraged” to learn that she is in favour of legalising assisted suicide.”

[UK] ‘Jeremy Corbyn’ 31 March, Islington Gazette

http://www.islingtongazette.co.uk/seasonal/election/jeremy_corbyn_1_4016434

“I don’t believe we should be talking about assisted dying until our social care and health care systems have been improved sufficiently with focus on the sick and elderly, especially since we are living in an age where longevity is on the rise and so many more elderly people are in need of health care.”