by Eddie Ytuarte; this article was originally published in Partisan issue no. 23, printed April 2007.

Physician Assisted Suicide (PAS) is often one issue where disability advocates and political progressives differ. The appeal of PAS is that it allows for the end of life by choice for people with a terminal disease who are suffering great physical pain. People should also have the choice to end their lives on their own terms by avoiding a drawn-out "vegetative" state of existence, or, in extreme cases, committing suicide to end a very painful terminal condition.

The battle over Physician Assisted Suicide is often pictured as those who want to have the freedom to choose suicide versus so-called right to lifers who believe that all life is precious and should be protected under any circumstances -- whether in the womb or living in a non-sentient state. However, it is a mistake to picture anti-PAS activists as falling in the conservative "right to life" camp.

My opposition to PAS is for two major reasons. Some in the pro-PAS camp openly favor it as a way to end the lives of people who require a great deal of money to keep them alive. Derek Humphry and Mary Clement are two of the darlings of the Hemlock or suicide movement, and they expose the pro-PAS side when they write in their book Freedom to Die (1988), "One must look at the realities of the increasing cost of health care in an aging society because in the final analysis, economics, not the quest for broadened individual liberties or increased autonomy, will drive assisted suicide to the plateau of acceptable practice."

Surely the sentiment above is contrary to the "free high quality health care" Peace and Freedom calls for in its platform. It would appear that Peace and Freedom should oppose PAS until the time that society provides for free and quality health care for everyone, since assisted suicide will be used as a way to keep down health care costs.

The other major objection is that this society still has this picture of people with major disabilities being in a pitiful state, forever confined to a bed, with nothing to live for. An example was the boxer in the Clint Eastwood film Million Dollar Baby. People with disabilities hated the movie not only for some alleged inaccuracies about the script, but because it chose to present this delicate and complicated issue through the mind of a very vulnerable and weak character who apparently had no support or guidance from supportive people with disabilities. She was given no alternatives as to how to live her future life, so she ended up totally ignorant of her future potential as a human being, both in terms of what she could get by living, and what she could give to others.

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