NZ Herald 31 January 2018
Family First Comment: A superb response – from someone ‘on the frontline’
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I read Brendan Rope’s story of his father’s battle with motor neurone disease with sadness.
Stories of such weight are half the argument for assisted dying, and we should take them seriously.
But we should also take seriously the assumptions about disability the article also displays. As a trustee of a disability charity, I know many people who can’t speak. Many people who can’t feed themselves.
As a sufferer of spastic hemiplegia, I too am in daily pain. I too am frustrated, and angry, and crying, and sad. Our elderly in rest homes, dementia units, and hospitals too know the frustrations of not being able to care for themselves: the pain of having to depend on others.
But when you argue that you’d rather be shot than live a disabled life, your argument has profound implications for the value of disabled people, and for those who also have motor neurone disease, spina bifida, or like me, cerebral palsy.
We have two options here: view dependency as a degrading and horrible crime (which puts human beings who are dependent on the same level as a sick sheep), or we can do what we do with all other forms of suicidality: youth suicide or elder suicide, and come around the person with proper medical treatments, family and community solidarity, and meaning.
Mr Rope announces that suicide is a very different thing to euthanasia, but offers no arguments why this is so—from the disabled corner, I argue it’s exactly the same.
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