January 10, 2014

Disability Rights - To Life Or Death

I read today in the Wall Street Journal an editorial by Joni Eareckson Tada--which I couldn't have disagreed with more. 

Let me start by saying that I have the greatest respect for Ms. Tada who is herself a quadriplegic and has overcome unbelievable challenges to become a huge successful author, radio show host, and advocate for disabled people. 

Yet in the editorial, she rails against those with disabilities that choose death over life and the laws that would enable this. 

She says, "first it was assisted suicide," and now it's unlawful birth suits after a child was born with severe disabilities that could have been genetically screened for, and an upcoming Belgium law that may "legalize euthanasia for children with incurable diseases--who, with the support of their parents or guardians, ask to die."

Ms. Tada calls these out as some sort of incredible "double standards" vis a vis the "freedom and dignity that the ADA [Americans With Disabilities Act] championed"--she says that "instead of helping the disabled live full lives, new laws seek to help them die."

While I appreciate her sentiments, I cannot agree with them--not everyone is Ms. Tada who decided she wanted to live and was able and fortunate to do what she has done.

This is a free country and people deserve the right to decide for themselves, making an informed and a well-thought out decision and with their loved ones, if they are too young, old, or otherwise unable to make the decision anymore for themselves. 

Having seen the ravages of disability, especially with my own mother, who suffers from Parkinson's Disease and other ailments, I cannot believe that anyone would try to force life on someone who has endless pain and suffering and wishes only for their final peace. 

Ms Tada asks, "What type of society do we want?"  She goes on claiming that "if we are seeking a good society then we do well to defend the rights of the helpless-not nullify their rights," yet this is exactly what Tada is advocating by seeking to nullify their right to end their suffering. 

If it amazing that people will "put down" a sick dying animal to relieve it of it's suffering when it is beyond cure, but we don't show the same mercy to fellow human beings when they are in the clutches of death and torment.

There is most certainly a time when it is enough pain, enough disability, when there is no more hope, and the most decent human thing we can do is free the person from their intolerable suffering.

Life is a wonderful thing if it can be lived, but if it is a living hell, then we should be merciful and let people go to their final resting place without the anguish that only they can ever really understand.

(Source Photo: here with attribution to GizM ()17)


No comments: