The Disability Rights Commission is set to oppose the introduction of laws allowing disabled people a “right to die”
3rd April, 2003
The commission (DRC) will not announce its official position until the summer, but Jill Stewart, DRC policy manager for independent living, health and social care, told DN: “At the moment, we are not convinced that safeguards and regulations can be put in place to protect disabled people.”
She said research carried out in the Netherlands – which has an assisted suicide law – showed that one in five such deaths in 1999 were carried out without the patient’s consent.
“It is against this backdrop that at the moment we just could not support a change in legislation,” she said
She added that the DRC also had concerns about a new private member’s bill introduced by Lord Joffe in the House of Lords.
His Patient Assisted Dying Bill, which came in the wake of several recent cases of people with motor neurone disease who demanded a “right to die”, would allow a terminally ill adult to request medical assistance to end their lives.
Meanwhile, the High Court has ruled that a hospital was wrong to say it would not give life-saving medical treatment to an 18-year-old autistic man with kidney failure because of his learning and behavioural problems.
Stewart said: “It is just incredible that these sort of things are still
going on. It is completely unacceptable.”
© Copyright 2003, Disability Now