Assisted suicide legislation is a threat to disabled people’s lives, independence and peace of mind.
We recognise that there is a range of views amongst disabled people as a whole on this issue, and we can see the argument for having a sensible, rational debate about assisted dying. But not now.
In every jurisdiction where a form of assisted suicide has been legalised, the numbers dying have increased over time. Once assisted suicide is law, society has endorsed it as an option, equal to that of life. Those who had never considered it will be told that it is an option. Their families, friends, health and social care professions will all know it as an option too.
It is hard enough already for those of us with terminal illnesses and disabilities to get the support services we need to live active, independent lives. The COVID pandemic has made that harder and bought into sharp focus the value society places on us. Many of us have lost health and social care support over the last year. And 6 out of 10 COVID related deaths have been disabled people.
For essential support to become merely the alternative option to assisted suicide terrifies us. That is why no organisation of terminally ill or disabled people has sought a change in the law.
We need help to live – not to die. That means investment in palliative care, pragmatic solutions to social care provision and continued financial support for our world-class NHS.
These are the issues our parliamentarians should be concentrating on, rather than the Pandora’s Box of assisted suicide which might help the few, but at the expense of the many.