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UN says disability not a reason to legalise assisted suicide

Assisted Suicide
26 January 2021
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The United Nations (UN) has issued a powerful statement condemning the growing trend to legalise assisted suicide based on 'having a disability or disabling condition, including old age'.

In a statement, experts said:

“Disability should never be a ground or justification to end someone’s life directly or indirectly.”
UN Experts

Danger of Ableism’

Assisted laws would legalise a practise called 'ableism' which is discrimination against those with disabilities.

In turn, this would violate Article 10 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities which requires states to make sure persons with disabilities can enjoy their inherent right to life on an equal basis with others.

The experts went on to say:

Disability is not a burden or a deficit of the person. It is a universal aspect of the human condition.Under no circumstance should the law provide that it could be a well-reasoned decision for a person with a disabling condition who is not dying to terminate their life with the support of the State.”
UN experts

Assisted sui­cide leads to pres­sure on the most vulnerable

Even when assisted suicide is legalised only for those at the end of their lives or with a terminal illness, the end result is still that people with disabilities, older people may feel subtle pressure to end their lives prematurely.

CARE’s response

The UN experts are Gerard Quinn, Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities;, Olivier De Schutter, Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights; and Claudia Mahler, Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons.

They are saying what we and others have long argued that legalising assisted suicide will put pressure on the most vulnerable. It is no accident that no major disability group in the UK has come out in support of assisted suicide.

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Assisted Suicide

Where assisted suicide is legal, it makes vulnerable people feel like a burden. CARE works to uphold laws that protect those people, and to assist them to live—not to commit suicide.

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