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Disability Rights Commissioner Paula Tesoriero condemned the End of Life Choice Bill claiming that “Before the country legislated choice in death, it needed to work towards ensuring, to the greatest extent possible, all people had the same freedom of choice in life.”
That’s laudable in an ideal world, says EOLC's Ann David, and we should undoubtedly strive to improve the lives of people with a disability. But to insist on perfection for one group of disadvantaged people before we can begin to address the wrongs committed against another group of disadvantaged people is ridiculously unjust.
Many people with disabilities support assisted dying legislation. Also, the Bill has nothing to do with disability but everything to do with irreversible, escalating, extreme suffering that cannot be palliated by any means.
Instead of torpedoing the entire bill, Paula Tesoriero might have proposed useful amendments. For example: “Disability alone will not constitute eligibility for assisted dying”.
She might also have considered what tests currently apply for the presence of mental competence and the absence of coercion when a patient requests cessation of life support or when doctors offer terminal sedation. Answer: None official. By comparison, the End of Life Choice Bill is safer for people with disabilities.
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