In the United States, seven states are considering assisted suicide legislation including: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Montana and New Mexico. However, our country isn’t the only one working to pass this dangerous legislation. In the United Kingdom, lawmakers are working on a bill that would legalize suicide for “terminal patients,” which is defined as patients who are given 6-months to live or less.
According to the Daily Mail, a woman who suffers from severe spinal muscular atrophy, testified against the legislation at the House of Lords located in the Palace of Westminster. Last week, Baroness Campbell, urged lawmakers to listen to disability groups on this issue and reconsider voting for the legislation. She gave her testimony with the aid of a respirator and the help of an assistant.
“We have been told time and again that disabled people with life-limiting conditions have nothing to fear from the Assisted Dying Bill. We are told it is necessary only to help a few desperate individuals to end their lives when they have weeks or months to live, and that, if enacted, it will not touch anyone who does not want it. I do not believe that.
Disabled and terminally people are rightly frightened that it puts them at risk. One of the most important reasons why I oppose the Bill is the definition of terminal illness and how many months, weeks or years we have to live. Believe me, I know about terminal illness, personally and professionally. I am fearful not least because the Bill defines terminal illness as an ‘inevitably progressive condition which cannot be reversed by treatment’. That could apply to many disabilities, my own included. Not a single organization of disabled or terminally ill people is actively campaigning for this legislation.
They all agree that it is impossible to create clear blue water between disability and terminal illness and as regards how many months until one might die.
The definition of terminal illness in the Bill is ‘an inevitably progressive condition which cannot be reversed by treatment (a “terminal illness”)’, from which the person ‘is reasonably expected to die within six months’. The Bill adds: ‘Treatment which only relieves the symptoms of an inevitably progressive condition temporarily is not to be regarded as treatment which can reverse that condition.’
The brain, eyes, lungs, kidneys, pancreas, joints and nerves can all be subject to ‘inevitably progressive’ conditions deteriorating at widely differing rates. Various forms of cancer, heart disease and neurological conditions can fit the criteria for ‘inevitably progressive’ at some stages. It would take only a chest infection or a small change in my muscle capacity for me to be put at risk. The catch-all of six months sends the invidious message that once you are down, you are on your way out.
He was often in the state of terminal progression, but he is still here. I was deeply moved when he said: ‘However difficult life may seem, there is always something that someone can do and succeed at.’
I have lived my life according to that belief, which is why I am here today.”
Listen to the rest of her powerful testimony in the video below.