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.