By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director – Euthanasia Prevention Coalition
Michael Irwin, 86, an assisted suicide lobby activist and retired physician in the UK, decided to end his life in order to promote the legalization of assisted suicide in the UK.
As sad as it is that Irwin is using his own death to promote assisted suicide, the reality is the attitude and language that Irwin uses about his own life mirrors the attitude of the assisted suicide lobby towards the lives of others.
Irwin refers to himself as “existing beyond my sell-by date” and that he doesn’t want his friends or family to remember him as “an increasingly decrepit person.”
By using this terminology Irwin is degrading people who are elderly (“beyond their sell-by date”) or living with disabilities (“increasingly decrepit”).
Last year Liz Carr, a disability rights activist and actress in the UK, stated in an interview why she opposes assisted suicide and why she produced a musical on the topic.
“Until we value ill, older and disabled people as equals; until there are no more hate crimes; until their deaths or murders are no longer portrayed or perceived as mercy killing, and until there’s real equality and validity for those groups of people, then maybe we can have that conversation.”
Carr later observed in the interview with Ben Cowles
“The problem with disability is social oppression, not disability. The solution to that is not to kill a person; it’s not to give them easy access to end their life. It’s to look at the reasons why that person wants to end their life. And are we doing everything we can?
Irwin, who is a past-president of the World Federation of Right to Die Societies and has promoted old-age suicide since 2009, was “struck-off” [removed from] the list of General Medical Council physicians in 2005 for breaking the code of ethics.
Irwin’s personal campaign to legalize assisted suicide devalues the lives of people with disabilities and older people. Irwin is promoting his own death in a manner that devalues the lives of other people creating a new pressure to die.
Editor’s note. This appeared on Mr. Schadenberg’s blog and is reposted with permission.