Sunday, September 21, 2014

Not Dead Yet Chicago Protest

Disability Rights cannot be overlooked by the suicide group

By Tim Wheat
Diane Coleman at the protest
The disability rights group Not Dead Yet held a three-day protest against the World Federation of Right to Die Societies during the Federation’s biennial meeting being held in Chicago September 17 to 20. Many Americans see the right to die faction as an individual choice clique and fail to see the target of the various groups are people with disabilities.

”We are here to contradict the message of these groups that it’s better to be dead than disabled,” said Not Dead Yet president Diane Coleman of New York.

The meeting is being hosted by the Final Exit Network, an American group known for its use of “Exit Guides” to instruct and assist people with “irreversible physical illness, intractable pain, or a constellation of chronic, progressive physical disabilities” to kill themselves using “Exit Bags” filled with helium.

“This is a collection of reckless suicide fanatics,” said John Kelly of Second Thoughts Massachusetts, whose group was instrumental in defeating assisted suicide bills and a referendum in that state.

Without respect for people with disabilities and the needs and desires of our community, the World Federation is concentrating on public policy that will kill us, not provide choices. Direct action is important in this struggle so that people know that the focus is on killing people with disabilities, not simply providing choice.

Not Dead Yet activists block a door
“A busload of ADAPT activists just arrived last night (September 17) to join us after a week of protests for home care and freedom from nursing facilities,” said Diane Coleman, President and CEO of Not Dead Yet USA. “We’re also thrilled to have representatives of our sister organization in Canada join us for this three day protest vigil. It demonstrates that the disability rights opposition to legalized euthanasia is growing and is, increasingly, a worldwide phenomenon.”

The World Federation of Right to Die Societies was organized in 1980 to bring together the various groups in Europe and Anglophone countries which promote euthanasia and assisted suicide. The Federation last met in the United States in 2000, when it was also protested by Not Dead Yet in Boston.

“These are the people that we have seen in the news,” said Amy Hasbrouck from the Canadian group, Toujours Vivant/Not Dead Yet, which is working to defeat Canadian initiatives that will be promoted at the conference. “People who condoned the suicides of the Belgian twins who were losing their sight, or of the woman who was afraid she would not be able to see a stain on her shirt.”