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Letter in the Boston Globe by Ellen Leigh

Activists within the disability rights community have justifiable fears

June 28, 2023

Jeff Jacoby’s column “For assistance in dying, please press 1” warns against the legalization of assisted suicide, especially highlighting its significant risks. As a disabled person, I share these concerns deeply.

Activists within the disability rights community fear that legalized assisted suicide could lead to coercion. Families might see it as a way to avoid caregiving; insurers might prefer it over costly treatments; and health care professionals, influenced by biases about quality of life, could steer patients toward this irreversible option.

Despite claims of compassion, legalizing assisted suicide risks perpetuating systemic ableism and potential abuse. Instead of offering death as a solution, we should prioritize bolstering support systems and health care for disabled individuals.

Comprehensive support services are crucial but often neglected. We already lack equitable and robust disability support systems, and the resulting problems lead to the underlying issues that push individuals toward considering assisted suicide.

Massachusetts must heed these concerns. Legalization of assisted suicide threatens the fundamental rights of disabled individuals to live with the respect and supports we deserve.

Ellen Leigh, Arlington

The writer is a member of Second Thoughts MA: Disability Rights Advocates Against Assisted Suicide.

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