Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Brain tissue from Nazi euthanasia victims discovered.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

T4 euthanasia victims
The Jewish Times reported that the Max Planck Institute is trying to determine whether Jewish brain tissue was among the brain tissue from the Nazi T4 euthanasia program that was recently discovered at the German research institute.

The article by Raphael Ahran published on August 31 in the Jewish Times states:
Unburied remnants of brains taken from victims of the Nazi regime during World War II were recently discovered in a German research institute, where they had been experimented on until the 1960s. The Max Planck Institute told The Times of Israel on Wednesday that it was not yet clear whether any brain parts from Jews were among those found, and said it was in the midst of a full investigation into the case. 
The gruesome case, reminiscent of the monstrous work of Auschwitz physician Josef Mengele, was widely discussed in the Israeli media Wednesday, after Army Radio reported (Hebrew) that Jews were among the men and women whose brains were used for research purposes during and long after World War II. But a spokesperson for the Max Planck Institute said the identities of the victims were still unknown.
According to the article the brain tissue was used for experiments by German neuroscientist Julius Hallervorden who worked at the institute from 1938 until his death in 1965. The article refers to Hallervorden as an enthusiatic Nazi.

The article explains that 700 brain preparations from euthanasia victims were found in the 1980's. The Max Planck Institute decided to bury the ones that were prepared from 1939 - 1945. In 1990 they erected a memorial to the euthanasia victims. In 2001 the institute stated that they received 100 brain preparations from the Hallervorden estate that came from 35 cases between 1938 - 1967. The article then states that 3 of the 35 cases were known to have been victims of the Nazi T4 euthanasia program.

Max Planck institute's communication chief, Christina Beck told The Times of Israel that:
the process of identifying the victims was ongoing. 
“This project will take a long time because it is to be linked with detailed research into the victims,” 
“Only afterwards will we be able to give say to what extent also Jewish patients were victim of the Nazis’ euthanasia murders.”
History is repeating itself under the slogans of choice and autonomy. Legalizing euthanasia or assisted suicide gives doctors, the right in law, to cause the death of their patients.

Further to the slogans, euthanasia for psychiatric conditions, euthanasia for people with dementia and euthanasia/organ donation have now become accepted in Belgium and the Netherlands.

Assisted Suicide is on the Colorado ballot in November.

A group of disability rights leaders, medical professionals, and other leaders have established Coloradans Against Assisted Suicide (CAAS) to organize a broad and diverse coalition against assisted suicide.


The assisted suicide lobby collected enough signatures in Colorado to get the issue of assisted suicide on the November election ballot.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) is encourages you to support CAAS by going to their website at: noassistedsuicideco.org and help by spreading the message against assisted suicide. 

CAAS also needs donations to run an effective campaign.

You may have friends in Colorado who are unsure about assisted suicide. Contact them and kindly urge them to vote NO on assisted suicide. You can also urge people to go to the Coloradans Against Assisted Suicide website.

The assisted suicide lobby has been pressuring the Colorado media to use the term "aid in dying" rather than assisted suicide. At least some media have been pushing back.

Colorado politicians reject assisted suicide, now Colorado citizens will need to be convinced to reject assisted suicide.

Killing the mentally ill in the Netherlands

This article was published by Wesley Smith on his blog on August 28.

B
Wesley Smith
y Wesley Smith


The Netherlands considers itself oh, so rational. Its laws around controversial social issues involve the concept of harm reduction.

Harm reduction? Once the country accepted killing as an answer to suffering, it was sure to include the mentally ill.

Now a new study reveals the law’s cruelty. From the Reuters story:

Overall, about a third of the people helped to end their lives were age 70 years or older, 44 percent were between ages 50 and 70 and about a quarter were 30 to 50 years old. Seventy percent were women. 
While fully 55 percent of patients were diagnosed with depression, the others had a number of different conditions, including psychosis, posttraumatic stress disorder or anxiety, neurocognitive issues, pain without any physical cause, eating disorders, prolonged grief and autism.
And now, Netherlands is following Belgium by conjoining euthanasia with organ harvesting, raising the prospect that the mentally ill will come to see their deaths as having greater value than their lives.

Don’t expect this to slow down anything. The only thing that really matters to the Dutch around this issue is transparency.

But what good is transparency when things go from bad, to worse, to evil, and it matters not?

Most people in the Netherlands long ago swallowed the hemlock premise of euthanasia. So I guess we could say about this study and others like it: At this point, what difference does it make?

The Euthanasia Deception documentary.

Purchase The Euthanasia Deception for: 
$30 for 1 copy or $100 for 4 copies or $200 for 10 copies. 

Order by paying online (link) or by emailing: info@epcc.ca or call toll free: 1-877-439-3348.

For quick access to the Euthanasia Deception you can download the documentary for purchase or rental (link).

For more information go to:  Caringnotkilling.com.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) in association with DunnMedia is pleased to announce the International release of The Euthanasia Deception, complete with interactive website and resource materials at: www.vulnerablefilm.com

The fifty-two minute documentary features powerful testimonies from Belgium and Canada, exposing the three main deceptions used by the assisted dying lobby:
  • Euthanasia & assisted suicide are falsely promoted as a form of compassion or mercy.
  • Euthanasia & assisted suicide are falsely promoted as a form of autonomy. 
  • The myth that safeguards can protect people is exposed. 
The Euthanasia Deception features; 
  • Professor Tom Mortier, a Belgian man whose depressed mother died by euthanasia,
  • Hendrik Reitsma, whose grand-father died by an assisted death without request in the Netherlands,
  • Dr Catherine Dopchie, a palliative physician in Belgium,
  • Dr Benoit Beusselinck, a Belgian oncologist and palliative care doctor in Leuven Belgium,
  • Carine Brochier, the co-ordinator of the European Institute of Bioethics in Belgium,
  • Professor Etienne Montero, Dean of the Faculty of Law, Namur Belgium,
  • Kristina Hodgetts, a nurse speaks about her experience with assisted death in Canada.
  • Lionel Roosemont, a Belgian man who is the father of a significantly disabled child,
  • Amy Hasbrouck, a lawyer and a disability rights leader in Québec Canada,
  • Mark Pickup, a disability rights activist and public speaker in Alberta Canada,
  • Steven Passmore, a disability rights activist in Ontario Canada,
  • Alex Schadenberg, the International Chair of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition
We are all vulnerable at different times in our lives. This documentary is a dire warning for Canada and the rest of the world.





Your donations to EPC enable us to continue our commitment to resisting the acceptance of euthanasia while providing jurisdictions with data to prevent its legalization.

Purchase The Euthanasia Deception by (paying $30 by credit card or paypal) or order by emailing: info@epcc.ca or calling toll free: 1-877-439-3348.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Euthanasia Symposium 2016 - October 29, 2016 - Resisting euthanasia and assisted suicide.


The EPC 2016 Euthanasia Symposium is Saturday October 29, 2016 at the Best Western Waterfront Hotel - 277 Riverside Rd West Windsor Ontario (next to the Windsor/Detroit tunnel with easy access to the Detroit airport). Book your hotel room for $139 by calling the Best Western at: 519-973-5555.

The Symposium runs from 9 am to 5 pm and  is followed by a dinner at 6 pm to honor Jean Echlin, our President.

Jean Echlin
EPC President
The Symposium registration is $50. 
The cost to attend the dinner is $50. 
The cost to attend the Symposium and the dinner is $90.

Register for the Symposium and dinner by calling the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition at: 1-877-439-3348 or email: info@epcc.ca or register by paypal or credit card (link).

The dinner to honor Jean Echlin, EPC President is at 6 pm at the Giovanni Caboto club - 2175 Parent Ave Windsor (Da Vinci room). Jean is a past director of the Hospice of Windsor, a past winner of the Dorothy Ley award for excellence in palliative care in Ontario and the founding VP of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.

Speakers include:
  • Catherine Glenn Foster - EPC USA director and lawyer. Catherine has submitted briefs in assisted suicide court cases throughout the US. 
  • Nancy Elliott – Chair – EPC USA – Opposing assisted suicide. Talking points.
  • Dr Kathy Pfaff Faculty of nursing, University of Windsor (Ethics and Conscience rights).
  • Kevin Dunn (Dunn Media) The Euthanasia Deception - building a social movement.
  • Diane Coleman – President, Not Dead Yet. A leading disability rights group world-wide.
  • Amy Hasbrouck, Director and Founder of Toujours Vivant – Not Dead Yet.
  • Alex Schadenberg Executive Director – Euthanasia Prevention Coalition. Resisting euthanasia and assisted suicide.


Monday, August 29, 2016

A New Documentary Confronting the “Euthanasia Deception”



The Euthanasia Deception - Promo from DunnMedia on Vimeo.

Order the Euthanasia Deception documentary. or buy the Euthanasia Deception documentary for $30 for 1 DVD / $100 for 4 DVD's or $200 for 10 DVD's (Link to purchase) or you can download the Euthanasia Deception documentary for purchase or rental (link).

By Richard Weikart
“What is our society becoming? It’s a quality society. Only the best will survive.”
So testifies Belgian Professor Tom Mortier in the powerful new documentary, “The Euthanasia Deception,” that is both thought-provoking and emotionally gripping.

Many interviews therein strip away the sugar-coated rhetoric that is increasingly tempting us to embrace euthanasia and assisted suicide as supposedly compassionate alternatives to agony and suffering. Mortier, however, knows something about the more sordid reality: without his prior knowledge his physically healthy mother was legally killed by a physician because she suffered from depression.

Belgium, which legalized euthanasia almost fifteen years ago, is the focus of much attention in “The Euthanasia Deception,” because it serves as a powerful warning to us. Physicians in Belgium are allowed by law to administer lethal injections to patients, even to children (with parental consent), if they say they are suffering in any way and want to die. They do not have to be suffering any physical pain, nor do they have to be physically sick in any way.

"The Euthanasia Deception” illustrates that though the law supposedly requires the patient’s consent, now that euthanasia has been accepted by Belgian society, some physicians are killing patients with Alzheimer’s or dementia without their consent. Though technically illegal, the government is turning a blind eye to these frequent cases of involuntary euthanasia, thus de facto sanctioning it.

What has brought about this “massive cultural shift” in the past couple of decades that has caused some countries (as well as some states in the United States) to jettison the ideals of the Hippocratic Oath, which forbade physicians from helping people kill themselves?

Tom Mortier's mother.
As Mortier’s quotation suggests, one of the most powerful themes to emerge from “The Euthanasia Deception” is that we no longer consider all people’s lives valuable. We now measure the value of a person’s life by our (elastic) judgement about their “quality of life.” Thus, some human lives are valuable, while others are not.


This comes through poignantly in an interview with “Lionel,” a Belgian man whose twenty-year old daughter is severely disabled. He explains that many people, including strangers on the street, have asked him over the years why he did not euthanize his daughter, whom he loves as dearly as his other children.

Another man, “Mark,” who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at age 30, explains that at one point in his life he was very depressed and wanted to die. Now, many years later, he is extremely thankful that assisted suicide was not legal at that time.

Mark Pickup with Kevin Dunn
Mark is delighted to be alive, even though he uses a wheelchair. In the interview he then waxed rather indignant, pointing out that while people with disabilities are being offered assisted suicide, healthy people are offered suicide prevention programs. Apparently we don’t really believe in human equality.


The film dismantles three key deceptive ideas used to promote euthanasia. First, euthanasia proponents try to take the moral high ground by presenting it as a compassionate alternative to pain and suffering. However, as several physicians and palliative care specialists explain, pain is rarely the reason for euthanasia. Rather patients usually request euthanasia because of fear of disability, or because they feel they will be a burden to others.

The really compassionate choice for us as a society is to care for people with disabilities and dying, loving them until the end. Indeed the word compassion derives from root words that mean to suffer along with (someone). Killing is not compassion.

Second, euthanasia advocates claim that euthanasia is an individual right that provides the individual with “autonomy.” As one person being interviewed astutely remarked, euthanasia may end pain for one individual, but it does so by transferring much pain to the next generation.

I was disappointed that no one in the film mentioned another obvious problem with the autonomy argument: suicide brings one’s autonomy to a screeching halt. We should ban assisted suicide for the same reason we ban slavery: because it is the antithesis of personal liberty. We don’t let people choose to become slaves.

Finally, fans of euthanasia insist that safeguards will protect the vulnerable. Belgium is a powerful counterargument, as they have fairly quickly allowed more and more forms of euthanasia for almost any ailments, even purely psychological problems. Worse yet, physicians are admitting that they do not follow the law, but nothing is being done to constrain their unfettered killing.

If you want to understand the perils of the “culture of death” that is gaining ground in our society, you owe it to yourself to watch this video. It not only confronts the false arguments, but it portrays the ways that euthanasia hurts all of us—the victims and the survivors.

“The Euthanasia Deception” is directed by Kevin Dunn and produced by the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition in association with DunnMedia & Entertainment. Information about “The Euthanasia Deception” is available at vulnerablefilm.com.

Editor’s note. Richard Weikart is professor of history at California State University, Stanislaus, and author of “The Death of Humanity: And the Case for Life and Hitler’s Religion.”

74% of Belgium assisted deaths for mental suffering are women.

This Media Statement was published by Not Dead Yet Aotearoa on August 29, 2016.

Media Statement

They’re killing psychiatric patients in Belgium and the Netherlands – and most of them are women

Two recent papers in medical journals highlight a worrying aspect of euthanasia in Belgium and the Netherlands, according to Wendi Wicks, convenor of Not Dead Yet Aotearoa.

“Most of the psychiatric patients being killed are women. So what’s going on-why are there so many disabled women dying?”

The British Medical Journal paper by Dr Thiesnpont – a psychiatrist personally involved in euthanasia - revealed that 74 percent of Belgian patients euthanised for mental suffering were women.

The paper goes on to observe “the concept of ‘unbearable suffering’ has not yet been defined adequately, and that views on this concept are in a state of flux.”

“The attitude seems to be that they’ll just keep killing until they’ve figured it out. It doesn’t give confidence when terms that can’t be properly defined are used in laws to end life. Assurances of fully informed choice are just an illusion ” says Ms Wicks.

The JAMA Psychiatry paper by Dr Kim showed 70 percent of Dutch cases were women, and that ‘Most had personality disorders and were described as socially isolated or lonely.’ We already know that disabled people are greatly at risk from euthanasia-assisted suicide and these studies highlight that it’s even more risky for any women.

Ms Wicks says that these findings should be ringing alarm bells around the world. “The Dutch and Belgian societies are turning their backs on mentally-ill women, and are quite happy for them to die out of hand. Assurances of informed choice and stringent safeguards to laws for euthanasia or assisted suicide in NZ are as hollow here as they are elsewhere.”

ENDS

Parent Power: Protecting children born with disabilities.

This article was published by Nancy Valko on her blog on August 29, 2016.

Nancy Valko
By Nancy Valko

During the last few months, I have been writing about efforts by some legislators in Missouri and now Kansas to block the passage of Simon’s Law, a bill that exposed and sought to change the secret futility polices in hospitals that led to the death of Simon Crosier, a baby with Trisomy 18. I even wrote my own testimony in support of the bill.

But now in a stunning development, Dr. John Lantos wrote an opinion editorial in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) admitting that withholding life-sustaining treatment from babies with Trisomy 13 and 18 was really a value judgment rather than a medical judgment:
Thirty years ago, pediatric residents were taught that trisomy 13 and 18 were lethal congenital anomalies. Parents were told that these conditions were incompatible with life. There was a tacit consensus that life-sustaining treatment was not medically indicated. Clinical experience usually was consistent with this self-fulfilling prophecy.

But with social media, this changed. Parents share stories and videos, showing their happy 4 and 5 year old children with these conditions. Survival, it turns out, is not a rare as once thought.”
(Previous article on this topic: Children with Trisomy 13/18 are not incompatible with life.) 

This survival is even more impressive in light of a related JAMA article titled "Outcomes of Surgical Interventions in Children with Trisomies 13 and 18" which stated that although "The median age of survival was 13 and 9 days, respectively, in children with trisomies 13 and 18":
Among children with trisomies 13 and 18 who lived to 6 months, survival at age 10 years was 51% and 60%, respectively.
Note that what is changing the former medical perception of "incompatible with life" is not any new medical advance but rather loving parents who refused to accept the predicted death sentences for their babies, insisted on treatment and then used Facebook and other social and regular media to show off their children’s real lives. I call this Parent Power and it is based on love.

That power may help bills like Simon's Law to finally pass.

DOWN SYNDROME (Trisomy 21) AND PARENT POWER

I personally learned about parent power when my daughter Karen was born in 1982 with Down Syndrome and a severe heart defect. 20+ years before Karen’s birth, children with Down Syndrome were routinely institutionalized as accepted medical practice. But by the time Karen was born, almost all newborns with Down Syndrome went home with their parents and eligible early childhood programs.

What caused this dramatic change?

Again, it was primarily parent power.

Parents like Kay and Marty McGee not only ignored the standard medical advice to institutionalize their daughter but also fought for support and help for their daughter and others like her. They eventually founded the National Association for Down Syndrome in 1960 (Link)

By working with other parents and reaching out to willing educational, legal and medical professionals, they helped change medical attitudes, the educational system and public acceptance of people with Down Syndrome who are now achieving goals once thought impossible.

Although it continues to be a long-term effort to ensure non-discriminatory medical treatment for people with Down Syndrome or other disabilities, people with Down Syndrome who were once predicted to die at an early age now have a life expectancy of 60 years and are achieving goals once thought impossible.

The Fight is Still  From Over

Unfortunately and on the heels of the welcome editorial comment on babies with Trisomy 13 and 18, comes the news about the tragic circumstances surrounding the death of little Israel Stinson.

Two-year old Israel died after a judge suddenly and unexpectedly rescinded a court order that prevented a California hospital from removing the ventilator from little Israel before his parents could get an opinion from another neurologist after conflicting medical opinions about whether or not Israel was brain dead.

In this case, parent power was overturned by a single judge after the family thought that Israel was protected by a court order.

Not only is this personally tragic for Israel and his parents but this development also serves to devastate the crucial trust needed in our medical and legal systems.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Soylent Green and Assisted Suicide as A "Life Style"

This article was written by William Peace and published on his blog on August 25, 2016.

William Peace is a Syracuse University Professor and disability rights leader. 

William Peace.
About ten days ago I wrote about Betsy Davis who ended her life and in so doing created an elaborate "Rebirth Ceremony". Davis was among the first people to use California'a euphemistically titled End of Life Option Act. Let's drop the pretense and describe the law as is: assisted suicide legislation. A few days ago an online magazine I read, Vox, published a "Rebirth Ceremony" party goers personal account of the party. As you would expect, I was appalled and taken aback that Vox published the story. 

The long essay gushes over how sad and wonderful the ceremony was and is replete with a description of a fashion show in which party goers try on Betsey's clothes. Yes, the author apparently fell in love with a vibrant red Donna Karen wrap dress that was difficult to figure out how to wear. Here is the dress in question gayly worn by the author.

Betsy you see has ALS and is terminally ill. Clearly, she could never enjoy wearing such a "frock". I breathlessly read that "Betsy groans in frustration. She's unable to talk because she is in the final stages of ALS, a neurodegenerative disease that is slowly depriving her of the power to move, speak, eat and breathe. Like many of the 30 party goers who flew in for the "Rebirth Ceremony" I am supposed to be impressed with the shindig. Many details are included. A random sampling:

It hadn't occurred to me that assisted suicide couldn't be wrong, because it was clearly what Betsy wanted. 
My friends and I rented a house in Ojai, close to Betsy's, for the weekend. We understood our job was to have as much fun as possible. 
From 5 to 7pm we would drink cocktails while picking out Betsy souvineers from her remaining belongings--everything must go. 
One friend brought balloons altered to read "Happy Re-Birthday". Betsy's photographer friend documented everything like a wedding.

A Tesla Model X with Falcon wing doors was at the ready to transport her to the ceremony site.
We were instructed to walk up a hill to a vista where white shade tents, a massage table, and an alter stood before white folding chairs--once again like a wedding. She was lifted into the Tesla X, laughing with joy as the Falcon doors closed, radiant in her blue and white robe. Despite our collective concern, we cheered her on as she was wheeled into the ceremony site. Lots of hooting and hollering, as if she'd just kissed the bride.

The above reads like something on page 6 of the New York Post tabloid wedding section in which two movie stars get married. This is not a spoof. This is very real. All week I have been thinking this is akin to a science fiction novel. Surely a person with wealth and power and the ability to have 30 people fly from across the nation might have put some energy into a little thing called life. Perhaps she did. I have no idea. A few things are a given in this story. ALS is certainly a fatal condition. Those who are terminally ill will die for certain. They will acquire an unwanted and horrific disability. Living connected to machines is a fate worse than death. Those unidentified machines are most likely a feeding tube and ventilator often referred to as life support. The focus here is on the drama of death. As I wrote ten days ago assisted suicide has become a life style.

I have thought long and hard about the classic 1973 science fiction movie Soylent Green. It starred young and old actors alike--Edward G. Robinson, Chuck Conners, Charlston Heston and others. The film was set in 2022 New York City. The population of earth experienced run away growth and New York City had 40 million residents. The city was encased in yellow haze of pollution. The worlds natural resources were depleted and people lived in filth. Heat waves were rampant and tormented the population. Poverty was wide spread world wide. Corporations replaced ineffective governments and corporations ran all social services. The Soylent Corporation provided meager amounts of food in the form of wafers of "Soylent Yellow" and "Soylent Red". In 2022 a new product is released--"Soylent Green". It was made from ocean plankton. Real food had long since been forgotten. Only the fabulously wealthy ate precious commodities like vegetables and meat. Water too was in short supply. Riots took place frequently. For those that remember the film, this dystopic setting was perfectly imagined. Spoiler alert for those that do not recall the film. The most famous scene in the film is Charleston Heston yelling in agony that "Soylent Green is made of people" as he is carried away. I recall a different scene. I remember Edward G. Robinson known as Sol or "Book". For Soylent Green is made of people--people who seek out assisted suicide. It is a culture of death not life. And please do not misinterpret those words. They are rational and devoid of any religious connotations.

I cannot fathom how we as a society ignore rampant ableism and embrace death as a life style choice. This is not science fiction but reality. I know when I enter my class, Bioethics and Disability, next week every student will be in favor of assisted suicide. That is the norm these days. Assisted suicide has become a given. I suppose assisted suicide reflects the American penchant for valuing independence and control. Both are defined in the narrowest sense of the term. If you can't get out of bed independently, dress yourself, and perform the usual activities of daily living your life is inherently inferior if not worthless. This cursory line of reasoning falls flat for me. In reality ableism knows know bounds. It is a lethal ism. Lives are at stake and that includes mine and millions of others. This reality keeps me up and I am reminded of the bellow scene in Soylent Green.


Thursday, August 25, 2016

For disabled people the idea of assisted suicide couldn’t be bigger.

Robyn Hunt
Robyn Hunt responds to David Seymour by explaining why people with disabilities strongly oppose euthanasia and assisted suicide, in her article published on August 24 in The Spinoff. Hunt writes:
I assure David Seymour that assisted suicide is a really big and complicated deal. It is no coincidence that disabled people all over the world oppose it. Our opposition arises from a (largely invisible) dark and troubled history, negative attitudes and behaviours towards disabled people and current human rights abuses. Disabled people see assisted suicide as dangerous because of their already marginalised status. Some disabled people are particularly vulnerable. 
Disabled and other people who oppose assisted suicide are not religious fanatics. Not Dead Yet Aotearoa was founded on disability rights not religious convictions. Assisted suicide supporters attempting to diminish the opposition by ignoring some and making sweeping statements about others is not helpful. 
Part of our unease relates to evidence that lives of disabled people are valued less than those of others. There is a history of euthanasia and eugenics, which have gone hand in hand for disabled people. The most notable, yet largely unknown T4 programme initiated by the Nazi Third Reich was the forerunner to the better known holocaust of Jews, gays, gypsies and others who did not meet the Aryan ideal. Around half a million people with of all kinds of impairments were killed. Some were tortured with “experimentation” before death. The first child to be euthanised was killed at the request of his parents. They were labelled “useless eaters”. Many disabled people today still feel the residual power of that label as they struggle with cuts to services, parsimonious supports and subtle pressures to find work. 
Even today those who murder their disabled family members, often vulnerable children, usually receive lesser sentences than other murderers. Their crimes may be labelled by the media and others as “mercy killings”. 
Disabled people in the past were often discarded by society, “put away” in institutions popularly labelled “bins”, forgotten by society and history and eventually buried in unmarked graves. Today’s mini-institutions still harbour instances of violence and abuse, occasionally gaining media exposure. Disabled people, especially women, feel more vulnerable because they know they are more likely to experience violence and abuse and often feel powerless. Powerlessness and assisted suicide can be a dangerous combination. 
Disability hate crime goes generally unremarked by public notice. While there were widespread and highly visible outpourings of solidarity and grief for victims of recent terror attacks in Nice, Paris and Orlando, there was a resounding public silence after the murders at Kanagawa Kyodokai at Tsukui Yamayuri En, west of Tokyo. Nineteen disabled people were stabbed to death as they slept. The killer was a former employee at the residential/rehabilitation facility for disabled people. In 50 minutes he killed 10 men and nine women and injured 24 others. 
He said afterwards it was better “that disabled people disappear”. He had offered to euthanise multi-disabled people for the state. The names of the victims will never be released because of the stigma and shame for their families. Disabled people everywhere were chilled and fearful in the face of widespread public indifference to the worst mass killing in Japan since World War II. 
Today in New Zealand disabled women can still have their children removed for adoption without their consent. Disabled people, particularly women are still sterilised without their consent, and are subject to invasive treatments such as the growth-attenuation Ashley Treatment, which threaten their bodily integrity. It is still difficult for some disabled people to have accessible information about medical procedures to enable them to make informed choices. Introducing assisted suicide would re-medicalise disabled people’s lives after a long fight to escape the unnecessary medicalisation of disability. 
Another serious human right violation in contravention of New Zealand’s international civil and political rights obligation sees a small group of disabled people incarcerated for years with no redress, despite having committed no crime. They are powerless and forgotten by wider society. 
Disabled people can and do have agency, but physical and other vulnerability and reliance on others for basic daily needs, while not being the “fate worse than death” some people imagine, does present complexities and added risk to daily living. 
Like most people we believe in the alleviation of suffering, such an untrustworthy and loaded word in this context of assisted suicide. One person’s perceived suffering can still be another’s rewarding daily life. Assisted suicide is not the only way to find dignity in death. We support the best palliative care and pain relief. Many disabled people would like to see medical marijuana legalised. Disabled people have committed suicide or attempted it. Yet there is no data collected or suicide prevention programme for disabled people when disability is framed in negative language and the “fate worse than death”. 
Free choice is another plank in the platform of assisted suicide proponents. Yet for many people, not just disabled people, choices are highly constrained, by circumstance, by resources, by subtle, and not so subtle pressure, for example, disabled friends with high support needs have had to fight hard to have externally inserted “Do Not Resuscitate” removed from from their medical records. 
Assisted suicide is therefore not simple, the “easy option” David Seymour would have us believe. Most disabled people remain focused on the goal of a good life, with all its difficulty, before thinking about a good death. There has been no demand for assisted suicide at any of the consultation meetings around the country (five) for the disability strategy that I have attended. 
Many disabled people know only too well the low value society places on disabled lives but they don’t focus on the common view that disability is all about deficit and despair even though there is a healthy level of cynicism about the systems and structures that are supposed to protect us. We know from experience that even with the best will in the world they don’t always work. 
Politicians see assisted suicide as a straightforward issue at their peril.
Robyn Hunt is a joint co-ordinator of Not Dead Yet Aotearoa, a focus for disabled peoples’ voices in NZ against euthanasia and assisted suicide legislation