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Failure of Prop 73 does not signal success of ‘assisted suicide’

“Why do we fall? So we can pick ourselves back up.” For anyone who has
seen the latest Batman movie, this line is going to sound very familiar, yet
it accurately describes what must happen, now that the special election is
complete.

Republicans lost. It stings. And, already the left is pouncing on their
fresh election kills to promote far-left bill proposals, mistaking the
results of last Tuesday as a mandate from the people to move on with their
liberal agenda.

Take for instance, supporters of assisted suicide. It took them no time to
put out editorials and flyers declaring Californians ready to enact such a
law. Their proof: the defeat of Proposition 73.

Assisted suicide supporters contend that the loss of Proposition 73 exposed
California’s anti-conservative nature and that our inability to generate
support shows that backing an assisted suicide law is no longer a “risky
business.”

I agree completely with the assertion that we failed in generating the
necessary support, but I strongly doubt that this is an indicator of
Californian’s openness to assisted suicide legislation.

One of the most convincing arguments against this notion is that
conservative religious organizations are not alone in their opposition to
assisted suicide. In fact, advocacy groups for people with disabilities are
among the most outspoken critics of assisted suicide.

Supporters of assisted suicide want to help people “die with dignity.” What
about living with dignity? People with disabilities face challenges beyond
many of our imaginations every single day–challenges that would make many of
us want to give up and die. And yet, people with disabilities do not want
assisted suicide.

The California Disability Alliance states that assisted suicide would
“undermine our health care and social services systems in ways that would be
very harmful for Californians with disabilities and serious chronic
illnesses.”

The California Foundation of Independent Living Centers adds that, “In
Oregon, research shows one of the major reasons for requesting assisted
suicide is fear of losing dignity by losing control of one’s body. People
with disabilities know that dignity and worth are not determined by the
condition of one’s body or the help that one requires.”

And the Disability Rights and Education Defense Fund states that, “[t]he
opposition to legalization of assisted suicide is often mischaracterized as
composed of religious conservatives, but most current opposition coalitions
include many persons and organizations whose opposition is based on their
progressive politics.” They go on to state that, “[s]upporters [of assisted
suicide] often focus solely on superficial issues of choice and
self-determination. It is crucial to look deeper.”

Along with these three groups, many other prominent national disability
advocacy groups have expressed opposition to assisted suicide. They include
the American Disabled for Attendant Programs Today, American Association of
People with Disabilities, National Council on Disability, Not Dead Yet, and
the World Institute on Disability.

These groups have fought against assisted suicide across the nation and have
been their fighting along side religious conservatives every time this issue
comes up here in California. Yet assisted suicide supporters apparently
believe that the position of people with disabilities equates to very little
in the broader fight against legalized suicide.

This argument completely undercuts the contributions these groups have made
in the fight for dignified life. For many religious groups this is simply a
moral issue, but for people with disabilities it is far more than that. It
is about maintaining the quality of their very lives and should not be so
casually dismissed by supporters of assisted suicide.

Clearly, assisted suicide is not simply a conservative versus liberal issue.
And if the left thinks that the failure of Prop 73 will assist in their
suicide plans, they really need to be more open-minded and take seriously
the opposition from these other groups.


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