Once when I was in college, I went to a talk by a disabled guy. He was in a wheelchair and, if I remember correctly, had a slight speech problem – not too much unlike me. He was arguing against abortion, saying that if abortion is allowed, it’s likely that fewer people like him – like me – would be born.
I thought it was a bit of a stretch. I thought that it was a cheap, cheesy, emotional argument. I certainly heard him and got where he was coming from, but I also thought he was using his disability to grab attention and pull heart strings to make his pro-life argument.
I am kind of having a similar feeling when it comes to the end-of-life act recently signed by Governor Jerry Brown here it California. I think it is compassionate and sensible for people who are terminally ill, with no more than six months to live and with unrelenting pain and no ability to enjoy life, to be allowed to get a prescription from their doctor that will hasten their death if they so choose. At least I want to think this. It fits in nicely with my liberal and progressive viewpoint, and all of my friends are happy, relieved, that Brown signed the bill into law.
I also hear the disability groups, though, who say that the law is bad, that it’s a slippery slope, that it will be used to deny care and services and perhaps kill off burdensome disabled people. Yes, there are lots of requirements in the new law to stop this from happening, but I still hear the disability groups’ arguments, as knee-jerk and emotional as they are, and I get them. I want to believe that, of course, the law won’t be used to deny care and services and worse, but sometimes, when I have to make a lot of noise and fight and fight for what I need (like new footrests on my wheelchair, as has currently been the case), I can’t help but wonder if they are right.
Another thing that makes me uncomfortable about the new law is that it says that the legal drug has to be self-administered. Now, I can, with some difficulty, take a pill myself – if the bottle is open, that is. But what about those who can’t use their hands or arms and can’t take a pill themselves. Again, this is a case where the disabled are unheard, where their needs aren’t considered. Or is it that, in this case, they’re heard too much?