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Opponents Of Assisted Suicide Tell Senators Their Concerns
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
May 30, 2006

WASHINGTON, DC--Leading opponents of legalized assisted suicide went before a U.S. Senate panel last Thursday afternoon to dispute statements by supporters of the practice.

Testifying before a Senate Committee on the Judiciary about "The Consequences of Legalized Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia" were Diane Coleman, President of the disability rights group Not Dead Yet; Jonathan Imbody, Senior Policy Analyst of the Christian Medical Association; Wesley Smith, Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute; and Rita Marker, Executive Director of the International Taskforce on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide.

Those supporting assisted suicide laws included Kathryn Tucker, Director of Legal Affairs for Compassion and Choices; Ms. Ann Jackson, Executive Director of Oregon Hospice Association; and U.S. Senator Ron Wyden from Oregon.

A dozen national disability rights groups have come out in opposition to making euthanasia and assisted suicide legal in the U.S., arguing that such laws put people with the most significant disabilities at highest risk, particularly at a time when health care costs are high, the lives of people with disabilities are not valued by society, and many doctors describe their quality of life as poor. Advocates have also noted that, among other things, many of those who have been helped to take their lives under such laws in Europe have not been in advanced stages of terminal illnesses, but instead had disabilities that may not have affected their life span.

"From our viewpoint, assisted suicide laws would create a dangerous double standard for society's response to suicidal expressions, an unequal response depending on one's health or disability status, with physicians as gatekeepers," Coleman told the panel.

"That sounds like deadly discrimination to us and, frankly, we've been disappointed that the U.S. Dept. of Justice didn't use our civil rights law, the Americans With Disabilities Act, to challenge the Oregon assisted suicide law. Like other minority groups, we feel that discrimination is best addressed on the federal level, and states rights have too often meant states wrongs."

Related testimony:
"The Consequences of Legalized Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia" (U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary)

http://judiciary.senate.gov/hearing.cfm?id=1916

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