Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=1084920
 


 



Disability and the End of Life


Alicia R. Ouellette


Albany Law School


Oregon Law Review, Vol. 85, No. 123, 2006

Abstract:     
This article seeks to answer the call from the disability rights community for a real debate on the role of disability in end-of-life decisionmaking. The article questions whether the crusade by disability rights activists against freedom in medical decisionmaking is in fact in the best interest of people living with physical and mental challenges, and concludes that it is not. Its underlying argument - that laws allowing choice in dying perpetuate disability discrimination - is flawed by conflation, inflation, misidentification, and a misplaced operational definition of disability. Specifically, the theory conflates dying with disability and misidentifies a persistent vegetative state as a disability that permits meaningful life. The conflation and misidentification allow the community to cast decisions to withhold or withdraw feeding tubes as disability prejudice, when such decisions are, in fact, an affirmation of autonomy and a showing of respect for individual values. Despite the flawed theory and negative practical implications of the disability agenda, the disabilty scholar's arguments deserve consideration. Judges, bioethicists, lawyers, legislatures, and health care providers should take concrete steps to stop the palpable discrimination that triggered the political movement in the first place and to alleviate the fear and hurt that has driven scholars and activists to extreme positions. The paper concludes that that two steps are necessary to achieve this goal. First, courts, bioethicists, and lawyers must stop justifying autonomous decisions to refuse treatment as reasonable by devaluing life with disability. Second, health care providers and policymakers, including institutional ethics boards, should reevaluate the notion of informed consent in cases of sudden disability to incorporate the evidence from empirical studies by disability scholars.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 60

Keywords: Disability, bioethics, end of life, Schiavo

Accepted Paper Series


Download This Paper

Date posted: January 17, 2008  

Suggested Citation

Ouellette, Alicia R., Disability and the End of Life. Oregon Law Review, Vol. 85, No. 123, 2006. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1084920

Contact Information

Alicia R. Ouellette (Contact Author)
Albany Law School ( email )
80 New Scotland Avenue
Albany, NY 12208
United States

Feedback to SSRN


Paper statistics
Abstract Views: 1,062
Downloads: 99
Download Rank: 157,744

© 2014 Social Science Electronic Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.  FAQ   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy   Copyright   Contact Us
This page was processed by apollo4 in 0.375 seconds