Legalising assisted suicide sends the message that the lives of disabled people are not valuable, an American blogger has said.
In an article posted by independent research group The Witherspoon Institute, Zachary Schmoll wrote: “This message is sent both to people with disabilities like me and everyone else who interacts with us”.
He posed the question: “Do I lack dignity because I lack physical independence?”
…these times of vulnerability are exactly when we must remind each other that our lives are always valuable.
PhD student Schmoll criticised assisted suicide laws because they “communicate the idea that suicide can be a reasonable, moral, and socially acceptable choice, because some lives are no longer valuable”.
Schmoll said that despite having “less independence than most other people”, he enjoys his life and is “thankful” for it.
But he warned that proponents of assisted suicide are reinforcing the doubts of more vulnerable people who may struggle with a sense of self-worth in a way that can have “deadly implications”.
He concluded: “Rather than affirming that suicide becomes permissible when one is faced with a disabling condition, these times of vulnerability are exactly when we must remind each other that our lives are always valuable, in spite of—or perhaps because of—our dependence on others.”
Last year in the US, serious concerns were raised after the Colorado End of Life Options Act was passed by 65 per cent to 35 per cent in a public vote.
Under the Colorado law, the person making the request must be deemed to be in the final stages of a terminal illness by two doctors before they are allowed to self-administer lethal drugs.
Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, said that before the vote, people had been inundated with the message that it was about freedom and there would be safeguards in place, “when the fact is when you look at the reality, none of that is true”.
He added: “If you have a medical condition you don’t have to speak to a specialist, you don’t have to, in any way, receive an opportunity to get the information that might change your mind”.
Assisted suicide remains illegal in the UK.
Under the law in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, a person who intentionally encourages or assists the suicide or attempted suicide of another person, commits an offence which carries a maximum prison sentence of 14 years.
A Bill to legalise assisted suicide was soundly defeated in the House of Commons in 2015 by 330 votes to 118.