The New Zealand government is now officially debating a bill to legalize euthanasia. Today Stuff News published an excellent article by Claire Freeman, who writes from the disability perpective.
Freeman opposes euthanasia based on her personal experience. Freeman notes that the bill is not limited to people who are terminally ill. Freeman wrote:
However, the bill contains another clause which states that anyone with a grievous and irremediable medical condition will also qualify for euthanasia. This is a very important aspect but seems to be often omitted.
This “grievous and irremediable” definition covers many people, especially those with severe disabilities, and this is where my concern lies.
Freeman wrote about a time in her life when she was suicidal.
As someone who has attempted suicide more than once, I know at first-hand how it feels like to be in a state where death seems a legitimate and desired option.
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I blamed my condition – tetraplegia – for my poor mental health at the time, but in hindsight it was my misguided coping mechanisms that were the problem, along with a very stressful and unsupported lifestyle and work environment.
I was driven to explore the option of euthanasia in other countries but the cost was prohibitive. Had that option been available in New Zealand, I would very likely have qualified because of the severity of my injury.