People who argue in favor of assisted suicide and euthanasia often say they and others should not live if they are a burden and require help in feeding and self-care. They say that such a life lacks dignity and autonomy. They say handicapped people are a drain on the health care system.
At the recent International Symposium on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide in Washington, DC, many speakers were handicapped or else they were people with profoundly disabled family members, including the brother of Terri Schiavo.
I copied 17 provocative quotes from their speeches here.
Bobby Schlinder, director of the Terri Schiavo Foundation:
Rolling Stone published an article about Terri's vegetable life...her dead fish eyes...and her doped up smile...This was my sister they were talking about. It was just one example of the media's profound prejudice and bigotry against handicapped people, and their slander and defamation of my sister.
My sister was never dying. We took her everywhere in her wheelchair. The media distorted her condition. She only required food and water to live, like everyone else.
The diagnosis persistent vegetative state dehumanizes people. It is a subjective diagnosis. My sister was not a diagnosis. She was a human being with a profound brain injury.
The number one question that I am asked all the time is, Who would want to live like your sister? That question is used to leap frog into killing people. But the question was never about Terri. It was always about us and about how we are going to treat our most vulnerable.
Diane Coleman, founder, the Not Dead Yet organization
Every time read the phrase "burden of care" I feel a threat.
We are sometimes asked, "Who are you—the disabled—to take away our rights to euthanasia?" However, the reasons for euthanasia are disability-related—things like loss of autonomy, loss of dignity. We don't believe in that. We do not believe those are reasons for physician-assisted suicide.
We're not dead yet and we will fight back.
Randy Richardson, father of Lauren
I want to say that my word compassion is not followed by the word choices. My word compassion means someone with a heart taking care of someone else.
When we told Lauren, "Lauren, we're going to take you home," she cried. Lauren is not a vegetable. Carrots can't cry.
Lionel Roosemont, father of Tikvah
I thought they would do everything possible to help my child. Instead, they told us that we should have an abortion as soon as possible. They told us she would be born blind, deaf, paralyzed, and helpless. When she was born, she was not blind, she was not deaf, and she was not paralyzed. Her APGAR scores were nine and ten.
The newest developments in Belgium society are that newborn babies are being killed and pharmacists are selling "euthanasia kits."
Please publish the Belgium story to put them under pressure. Stand up for your country and for Belgium. You don't have to be afraid.
Stephan Drake, Not Dead Yet organization
When I was born, the doctors put the odds at 100 to one that I would survive the night. They worried that I might survive and I did. I am living against medical advice.
The restriction of physician-assisted suicide to just the terminally ill should not be regarded as permanent. We know their strategy. They have laid it out for us.
Alison Davis, No Less Human
Once I accidentally went into the wrong room where proponents of assisted suicide were working. Everyone assumed I was pro-euthanasia because I am in a wheelchair.
The other side thinks we disabled people are clamoring for such laws. Most of us are terrified of these people and we are afraid of euthanasia becoming law.
About twenty years ago, I just wanted to die and this feeling lasted for years. Once I took a large dose of pills, slashed my wrists, and then I drank an entire bottle of martini. A friend took me to the Emergency Room where I was treated against my will. If suicide had been legal then, I would have satisfied all the criteria. It took me years to decide that my life was worth living. I have not thought about suicide since. I had no idea of the good times that were ahead of me.
I have experienced much pain in my life. When my pain is bad, I do not need to be told that I am burdensome. I need to hear that my life has meaning. The feeling that I may be abandoned is worse than any pain.
Jane St. Clair has worked as a production staff member of the television program Sesame Street in New York City, at Channel 11/PBS-TV in Chicago, and as a newspaper reporter/photographer for the Louisville-Courier Journal and weekly papers in rural Indiana and Appalachian Kentucky. She has published over fifty children's short stories and adult fiction in literary magazines such as Thema, QWF, and Red Rock Review. Her stories also appear in four literary anthologies, including Times of Grace, Times of Sorrow published by the University of Nebraska. She is the 2007 winner of the True Life Story contest, 2006 first-place winner of The Writers Network contest, American Accolades, Hollywood's Next Success, and 2005 winner in television writing for Scriptapalooza. She has also authored two nonfiction books and hundreds of web articles. Her series on financial literacy for children won a national award and has had over a million " hits." Her first novel, Walk Me to Midnight, was published by OakTara. www.janestclair.net