The shadow disabilities minister has expressed support for legalising assisted suicide, despite being well aware that many disabled people will be “horrified” and “outraged” by her stance.
In an interview with the Disability News Service website, Labour MP Kate Green said she did not accept disability rights campaigners’ arguments against changing the law.
They maintain that it would be impossible to safeguard against vulnerable people being put under pressure to die.
But Green said she had “no reason to believe that it is not” possible to draw up safeguards, adding that she does not want “a single unnecessary or unwanted death”.
She did accept that “humans can never get everything right”, and said she would like to hear from disabled people directly to assess their concerns.
Her comments come as Labour MP Rob Marris’ assisted suicide Bill is set to be debated in the House of Commons on 11 September.
The Bill is based on proposals brought forward by Lord Falconer last year.
Not Dead Yet UK, an alliance of disabled people against assisted suicide, called for Kate Green to resign, labelling her views “shocking” on Twitter.
“Disabled ppl want assistance to live not die!” the tweet continued.
Threat to safety
And disabled Peer Baroness Campbell said she would seek an urgent meeting with Green to explain why legalising assisted suicide “is such a threat to disabled people’s safety, feelings of self-worth and right to equality”.
Campaign group Disabled People Against Cuts said that Green’s views reveal “a lack of commitment towards the principles of choice and equality for disabled people”.
Ellen Clifford, a member of the group’s steering committee, said: “The question of assisted suicide is often mistakenly viewed as being about personal choice. It isn’t. It is a deeply political question concerning the right to live for an oppressed group of people.”
Last year, the leaders of disability charities Scope and Disability Rights UK said they were “deeply concerned” about pressure to introduce assisted suicide.
In a letter to The Daily Telegraph, they warned: “Many disabled people strongly oppose legalising assisted suicide”.
“Why is it that when people who are not disabled want to commit suicide, we try to talk them out of it, but when a disabled person wants to do so, we focus on how we can make that possible?
“The campaign to legalise assisted suicide reinforces deep-seated beliefs that the lives of terminally ill and disabled people are not worth as much as other people’s”, they added.