The Impact of Assisted Suicide on Persons with Disabilities - Is It a Right Without Freedom?
Paul Steven Miller
University of Washington School of Law
Issues in Law & Medicine, Vol. 9, No. 1, p. 47, June 1993
While the choice between life and death must be left to the individual, a delicate balance exists between individual autonomy and the impact of prejudice. Miller argues that the current debate over a disabled person’s “right to assisted suicide” reflects a societal double standard between the value of the life of a person who is able-bodied and that of a person with a disability. The cause of suffering of persons who have disabilities is not often the disability itself, but is most often the result of systematic discrimination and oppression. Value judgments that conclude a disabled life is not worth living fail to conceptualize the many attitudinal, physical, and societal barriers prohibiting fulfillment for persons with disabilities. Thus, when people with disabilities make a “choice” to seek their right to die, they do so from the position of a society that fears, discriminates against, and stigmatizes disability as undignified. Miller asserts that in order for an assisted suicide to be truly the result of an unconstrained and free choice, the underlying reasons for persons with disabilities choosing death must be as valid as those of an able-bodied person and most importantly, must afford individuals with disabilities the option of living a dignified life.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 18
Keywords: assisted suicide, disability, human rights, disability human rightsAccepted Paper Series
Date posted: October 24, 2009
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