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Disability rights group welcomes survey showing opposition to assisted suicide

10 May 2011

Disability rights group welcomes survey showing disabled concerned about assisted suicide London, 10 May 2011: A disability rights group has welcomed a survey which shows concern by disabled people about assisted suicide.

Alison Davis, leader of No Less Human (NLH), was commenting on the survey commissioned by Scope which found that a majority of disabled people were "concerned about a change in the law to legalise asssisted suicide."

Ms Davis said: "This survey is particularly welcome because it disproves the constant claim by the misnamed 'Dignity In Dying'* lobby that most disabled people support assisted suicide. Scope, by contrast, is an independent organisation with no affiliation to either side of the argument. *(Formerly the Voluntary Euthanasia Society.)

"Dignity In Dying's spurious distinction between 'assisted suicide' and 'assisted dying' does not hold. Both aim to cause the death of a sick or disabled person, because their life is considered, by themselves or others, to be not worth living. Such people need support to live, not encouragement to believe that their suicidal thoughts are rational and right.  

"My personal experience proves this to be true. Some years ago, when I was in great pain, and was simultaneously experiencing other forms of suffering, I made up my mind that I wanted to die - a settled wish that lasted more than 10 years. Had assisted suicide/dying as proposed by Dignity in Dying been available then, I would have qualified for it, and would have chosen it.

"My doctors believed my remaining life would be very short, and my pain was intractable. Now, so many years later, my pain is, if anything, even worse. What has changed is my outlook on life, helped by friends who refused to accept my view that my life had no value or meaning.

"Had my request for assisted death been accepted then, I would have missed the best years of my life - and no one would ever have known that the doctors were entirely wrong in thinking I had little time left to live.  

"Members of No Less Human join their voices to the 77% of disabled people (18-24 years) surveyed who believe that legalising assisted suicide/death would result in pressure on other disabled people to end their lives prematurely. Moreover we recognise that disabled people are particularly in danger of having our lives deemed not worth living, whatever our views on the subject.  

"Suicidal disabled people deserve the same care, support and presumption in favour of life as able-bodied people who feel suicidal. If this does not happen, it only confirms the view of many of us that society regards us as dispensible, and of little or no value to society", concluded Ms Davis.

Alison Davis, leader of No Less Human (NLH), can be contacted on 01258 837546.

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