This site now acts as an archive only. For the latest news, opinion, blogs and listings on disability arts and culture visit

Disability Arts Online

Crippen looks at history in respect of the Assisted Suicide debate / 1 February 2010

Unsurprisingly Assisted Suicide is still in the news with another ruling that let a mother who aided her daughter to end her life, walk away from a murder charge. Why the daughter who had ME was 'bed ridden' for over 17 years, was just one of the issues that wasn't addressed during the recent court appearance.

The author Terry Pratchett, who was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer's has also come forward to advocate changes in the law that will make assisted suicide legal. He has also
recommended the setting up of tribunals to decide who should 'qualify' for this method of ending their life.

For many Disabled people, the ease with which public opinion and now the law is sliding towards a society in which assisted suicide is the norm has serious implications with regard to our standing as viable members of the community. It was only seventy years ago that Germany passed similiar laws which resulted in the T4 programme and the extermination of hundreds of thousands of disabled people.

What next, we ask? Laws for the forced sterilization of disabled people similiar to that which were implimented in the United States. Between 1907 and 1939. More than 30,000 people in twenty-nine states were sterilized, many of them unknowingly or against their will, while they were incarcerated in prisons or institutions for the mentally ill.

"But you're taking this out of all proportion" is the response that we are used to hearing when addressing these issues. Try telling that to the 275,000 disabled people who were killed quite 'legally' in Germany during the 1940's.

Our mate George has also started a debate on the subject. Click here to join in.

Also read Clair Lewis' well written essay on Heresy Corner. Click here for the link.

And click here for Jude Stephenson's FaceBook article.

Keywords: assisted suicide,bnp,disabled people's movement,nazi party atrocities towards disabled people,


Bob Williams-Findlay

10 February 2010

Since the 1990s, mainly due to both Mike Oliver and Colin Barnes, I've had to question the value of the "Rights" agenda. Why should a 'right to die' have anymore credibility than the right not to live in a disablist, capitalist society run by a Parliament full of greedy, self-centred political hacks? The answer is obvious - the former doesn't threaten the existing social relations.

Those who support 'a right to die' focus on those who are able to articulate their desires; so it's tough ***t on those who may be "mentally confused" or unable to express a choice. So, it is a "right" for those with the ability to exercise it - blends well into dominant disablist culture, does it not?

Sanda Aronson

8 February 2010

This "exercise" is a CFS/ME illustration. I hit the enter key a second before I realized that I didn't put in the number code - so it got vanished/disappeared.

CFS/ME has cognitive stuff, as my comments on other articles sometimes illustrates.

I found this blog (and I like the cartoon, and it makes my eyes water with sadness) via link.

I spent 8 years horizontal with CFS/ME. I'm some better, but 98 or 99 percent homebound and my infrequent trips out require use of a wheelchair due to the illness. I could only tolerate some bits of the articles about the murder (I call it that) of the young woman with ME.

As an atheist Jew, I relate to the history Crippen adds in the article. As a person with cognitive glitches due to CFS/ME, I am a "two fer" of sorts.

Because I was welcomed by the disability community before I had a medical diagnosis, I identify with people with all kinds of disabilities. When I realized I was disabled, not "getting well", I began a letter network for professional artists with disabilities in April, 1985. My caregiver, called "carer" in England, is my spouse. I'm online two years. I am aware of ME in England. Greg Crowhurst of A Carer's Blog is in England and I met his wife, my friend, via the internet.

CFS/ME is a nasty illness with a range of disability. I can't post an image yet...

slow learning due CFS/ME. CFS is the name in the US, chronic fatigue syndrome,which itself is a political decision. Google Hillary Johnson's op ed piece in the NYTimes on October 21, 2009 about that. On both sides of the Atlantic, we are "dissed"...

Some of my art (I do art as can, including political art) is on a group website, nonprofit, small group of artists, started by two;

pink pjs

3 February 2010

I watched the Panorama programme which gave the story of Lynn and her mother and I did feel a great deal of sympathy for both of them. However, I feel that the current legal situation is dangerous along with the apparent focus on euthanasia as 'mercy killing'.

What I would like to see is a focus on what can be done to improve healthcare, treatments, social care etc. to improve the quality of life for people faced with painful and degenerative conditions and much better support for those who care for them and for both, this support should focus as much on emotional support as medical and practical help as it seems that, as much as anything, what lead to this situation where death and effectively, murder, seemed the only option, was despair, isolation and hopelessness.

What seems to be a huge problem is a lack of real community in developed countries and community responsibility which appears to be leading to a feeling that if people cannot 'live independently' then their lives are not worth living.

Nabil Shaban

2 February 2010

In 1997, a theatre company I was working for, asked me for ideas for a play. I suggested a play about a group of disabled terrorists (or freedom fighters, depending on which side you're on) called D.A.R.E. (Disabled Anarchist Revolutionary Enclave) who use military action against anyone or organisation promoting eugenics, genetic cleansing and euthanasia. This was fiction. The BMA, the Government, the BBC and other media...and people like Terry Prat-Shit are lucky D.A.R.E. is only fiction.... However, if we disabled people feel our lives are being threatened by the increasingly Nazified State, then eventually the question may arise as to whether disabled people should follow the example of such militant groups as the ANC (African National Congress...President Mandela's one time "terrorist organisation.

Me personally, I try to be a pacifist. I don't believe in advocating violence...unlike our governments who prefer violence and war as a means of solving their problems. But the fact remains...if we disabled people feel threatened, have we not the right to defend ourselves? It is clear The Government is in favour of "Assisted Suicide"...I knew this would be the next step on the road to removing disabled people from the face of the earth, when Thatcher's government passed the Fertilization and Embryology Bill in 1988, where it was no longer a criminal offense for disabled foetuses to be aborted that reached full-term i.e. 9 months...unlike non-disabled foetuses. So, already for over 20 years, there has been one rule for destroying us, and another for saving them.


2 February 2010

Another good link has popped up on the subject -

Arty Farty

2 February 2010

This debate needs more air time with a more balanced hearing. The BBC are giving masses of air time to Pratchett but minutes to those disabled people who want to respond like Jane Campbell. Send the link for this blog to all your contacts. Don't let them sweep us under the carpet.

Linda Burnip - FaceBook

2 February 2010

there is os much unexplained in that case, it is really quite frightening.

Shaun Johnson - FaceBook

2 February 2010

Good article, I find it incredibly disturbing that there hasn't been any sort of outcry about the girl with ME being killed by her mum. The implication throughout is that her life wasn't worth living so she was better off dead. But why wasn't she receiving any help or support? As you say, why on earth was she 'bed ridden' for over 17 years? If it is okay to kill people with ME, is anyone safe?

Jackie Softly - FaceBook

2 February 2010

so true Dave. I'm always torn when I read or hear about the 'voluntary euthanasia ' debate. On the one hand I understand the anguish of people who want to choose for themselves when to end the suffering; on the other I'm filled with fear at the thought of what could happen to my son and so many others if the community decided (as has happened in the past) that his life isn't worth living.

Clair Lewis

2 February 2010

I agree with everything you have said. I am against assisted suicide because so many disabled people are left feeling they have no choice because of neglect. Many of us feel suicidal now an again.