UK Disability Rights Group Launches Campaign

****UK Disability Rights Group Launches Campaign


By Hilary White

LONDON, June 4, 2010 ( – Disability rights activists are taking aim at campaigners who say legalising euthanasia could benefit them. This week the group Not Dead Yet UK launched a campaign urging members of parliament to resist efforts to bring legal euthanasia or assisted suicide to Britain. The efforts have been gaining strength in recent years.

Not Dead Yet UK has asked MPs to sign the Resistance Charter, a document that says “disabled and terminally ill people fear that calls to legalise assisted suicide and euthanasia are likely to intensify," and that such individuals “deserve and are entitled to the same protection in law as everyone else.”

Signatories would confirm that they value the lives of the disabled and terminally ill and their contributions to society, and believe that, like suicidal people, they should be encouraged to live.

It includes a pledge that MPs will support palliative care initiatives and work to ensure the disabled and ill receive the health care and social services they require to “live with dignity.”

The group notes that the campaign to legalise assisted suicide frequently uses disability as a justification without the support of disability groups or activists. This includes organisations that advocate on behalf of people with multiple sclerosis and motor neurone disease, two illnesses most often cited by assisted suicide campaigners and media.

At the same time, the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), Britain’s leading pro-life organisation, has launched a petition to stop the killing of vulnerable patients “by neglect,” that is, by the removal of artificially administered food and water.

John Smeaton, director of SPUC, said: “Vulnerable people are being put at risk every day in hospitals of being killed by the withdrawal of ordinary care, including food and water. Food and water, whether given by mouth or by means of tube feeding, are essential for everyone's survival.”

“Elderly people are being made to feel that society will not care for them. We have to show them that we care and that we will not abandon them when they are most vulnerable.”

Under current law, physicians who refuse to starve and dehydrate patients to death can be suspended from practice.

The petition calls upon the Secretary of State for Health and the General Medical Council to ensure that “no patient is deliberately killed by the withdrawal of ordinary treatment and care, including food and water.”

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