By Sean Crowley
“Like others, we want the freedom to enjoy life. This freedom should include the full range of options at the end of life, including hospice, palliative care and aid in dying.”
Those are the opening words of an op-ed published today in the Missoulian [Montana] newspaper authored by two Compassion & Choices volunteer advocates to commemorate tomorrow’s 24th anniversary of the 1990 Americans With Disabilities Act.
The authors — Dustin Hankinson from Missoula, Montana, and Sara Myers, who lives in New York City and Connecticut — wrote about why they join famed physicist, best-selling author and U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom winner Stephen Hawking in supporting death with dignity: because it ensures autonomy and expanded options at the end of life, just as the ADA does throughout life.
They cite a report published in the Journal of Medical Ethics about the Oregon Death With Dignity Act. It concluded: “Rates of assisted dying in Oregon showed no evidence of heightened risk for … the physically disabled or chronically ill.”
Recent data shows a strong majority of voters living with disabilities support death with dignity in states where it has been polled: Connecticut (65 percent), Massachusetts (74 percent) and New Jersey (63 percent); support levels nearly identical to all voters in these three states (Connecticut: 66 percent, Massachusetts: 71 percent, New Jersey: 62 percent).
The op-ed concludes:
“‘If you have a terminal illness, and are in great pain, I think you should have the right to end your life … It is discrimination against the disabled to deny them the right… that able-bodied people have … We should not take away the freedom of the individual to choose to die. I believe one should have control of one’s life, including its ending.’”