On behalf of the Australian Catholic Disability Council, I would like to raise an element of the vexatious debate on euthanasia and the right to die, writes Michele Castagna.
Currently the debate focuses on palliative care and people who have terminal illness. The ACDC wishes to state strongly that the euthanasia issue is much broader and far more dangerous than is being portrayed by the media and generally sold to the general public.
The debate is very much applicable to people with disability of all ages. There is evidence in all sectors of society that it consciously and subconsciously believes the quality of life of people with disability is not worth protecting. This is especially relevant as reports of the care and support for people with disability is judged to be seen as too high and unsustainable.
As a person with disability, I have experienced this very attitude on many occasions. It has raised very difficult emotional and psychological issues for me to contend with. Some of the questions I have been forced to face are:
Do I have a duty to die, for the sake of family and society, to cease to be a ‘burden’? What is my worth and value to society?
Am I a ‘drain’ on what is considered the welfare system, even though I am fully employed and pay ‘my own way’? When do I consider my ‘use-by date’ is up? Do I have a say?
Will others decree when it is my ‘turn’ to die? Where and when will I die? When do I have the right to choose to die or not to die, but to live? The pressure weighs heavily on individuals, like me, who feel forced to consider these questions.
History has taught us that when euthanasia and eugenics become entwined, people who are perceived by society as unwanted, unacceptable, different or a financial burden on society are the most vulnerable.
FULL STORY The euthanasia debate: a hidden agenda