Disability Groups Claim Oregon Assisted Suicide Law Puts Lives At
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
May 10, 2005
WASHINGTON, DC--A dozen leading disability groups filed a brief Monday with the U.S. Supreme Court opposing Oregon's physician-assisted suicide law in a case to be heard this fall.
The state is challenging former Attorney General John Ashcroft's interpretation of the federal Controlled Substances Act as banning doctors from prescribing lethal doses of drugs to patients seeking help to take their own lives. Ashcroft said prescribing a drug with death as the goal is not a legitimate use of that drug.
Many disability rights advocates have opposed making assisted suicide legal in the U.S. and elsewhere, arguing that the existence of such laws puts the lives of vulnerable people at greater risk. They also claim that Oregon's law violates their rights under the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act and equal protection provisions in the Constitution because it discriminates against and degrades the lives of people with disabilities.
"Oregon's assisted suicide law encourages disabled individuals, those who are 'terminal' and those who may not be, to end their lives -- and guarantees such efforts will result in death -- while other state laws concurrently discourage non-disabled persons from suicide," the advocacy group Not Dead Yet said in a press statement.
Diane Coleman, the group's president, said: "If assisted suicide were really about personal autonomy, it would be available to all suicidal people."
Along with Not Dead Yet, the following disability groups signed on to the amicus brief: ADAPT; Center on Disability Studies, Law and Human Policy at Syracuse University; Center for Self- Determination; Hospice Patients Alliance; Mouth Magazine/Freedom Clearinghouse; National Council on Independent Living; National Spinal Cord Injury Association; Self-Advocates Becoming Empowered; Society for Disability Studies; TASH; and World Institute on Disability.
"Disability groups file amicus brief in Gonzales vs. Oregon" (Not Dead Yet)
"Amicus curiae brief from disability rights groups" (Not Dead Yet)
Gonzales v. Oregon (International Task Force on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide)