(This wasn't picked up by any newspapers as far as I know, but the story
is published and available through Medill News Service. --Steve)
Disability advocate group in Chicago troubled by Supreme Court ruling
by Catherine Andrews
January 17, 2006
A Chicago area disability advocacy group Tuesday charged the
Supreme Court with devaluing handicapped people by upholding
an Oregon assisted suicide law.
Diane Coleman, executive director of the Forest Park-based Progress
Center for Independent Living, was troubled by the high court decision
because making suicide legally available to a small segment of the
population is discriminatory.
"The reasons that people are giving for wanting assisted suicide, both
those who do it and the doctors who perform it, are disability reasons,"
said Coleman. "They are feelings of being a burden to the family,
concerns about incontinence. These are disability issues, not just
terminality issues, and we need to speak up for them."
The Supreme Court upheld Oregon's doctor-assisted suicide law by
a vote of 6-3 Tuesday, saying that the Bush Administration had
stepped beyond its authority in attempting to overturn the state statute.
If other state lawmakers chose to follow Oregon's lead and pass
a doctor-assisted suicide law, the Supreme Court ruling would apply.
Illinois currently has a statute prohibiting assisted suicide. A Chicago
legal scholar hailed the Supreme Court ruling.
Katie Watson, a lecturer at the Humanities and Bioethics Program of
the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern, said the Supreme
Court's decision was legally correct.
"For the administration to not only try to revoke physicians' licenses,
but to try to criminalize them federally, puts doctors in an absolutely
untenable position," she said.
Several right-to-die organizations also celebrated the Supreme Court's
"Personal medical decisions are best made by patients and physicians,
not by lawyers and legislators," said Peg Sandeen, executive director
of the Death with Dignity National Center in Portland, Ore., in a statement
issued Tuesday. "More and more Americans are demanding a greater
say in how they live and how they die."
Coleman disagreed, "If [assisted suicide] really is about liberty and control
of your body, why isn't it offered to everybody? We shouldn't be carving
out a separate path of travel for one group of people, and that's what this
law does. That's why we believe it is so discriminatory."
"When somebody says 'I want to die,' then somebody is supposed to
say, 'No, we value you, we want to make you feel better," Coleman said.
"But this decision helps create social expectations that the courageous
thing to do is assisted suicide because then you won't be a burden on