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Medill News Service: Dis. advocate group in Chicago Troubled by SC ruling

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  • sndrake@aol.com
    (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)
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 20, 2006
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      (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
      your family."
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