UN disability expert concerned about euthanasia, assisted suicide and the New Eugenics

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Catalina Devandas

Catalina Devandas, who was designated as the first Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities in June 2014 by the UN Human Rights Council, published a statement to accompany their report concerning the New Eugenics and ableism in medical practise.
 
Devandas expresses her concerns on the impact of euthanasia and assisted suicide for persons with disabilities. She states

“If assisted dying is made available for persons with health conditions or impairments, but who are not terminally ill, a social assumption could be made that it is better to be dead than to live with a disability,” the expert warned.  

“People have the right to live and to die with dignity, but we cannot accept that people choose to end their lives because of social stigma, isolation or lack of access to personal assistance or disability-related services.”

Devandas also expressed her concern about medical developments that she refers to as the New Eugenics.

The UN expert explained that developments in gene therapy, genetic engineering and prenatal screening experienced enormous growth, increasing our power to repair the body and prevent disease, but cautioned about “eliminating” human characteristics deemed undesirable.

“People with disabilities are genuinely concerned that these developments could result in new eugenic practices and further undermine social acceptance and solidarity towards disability–and more broadly, towards human diversity,” she said.

Devandas points out that ableism as at the root of these issues. She states:

“If the life experiences of people with disabilities continue to be undervalued, no progress will be made.”

“What we need is a profound cultural transformation on the way society relates to the difference. That is a commitment to embrace disability as a positive aspect of human diversity. States must combat all forms of discrimination based on disability…”

Another excellent report was published by the National Council on Disability—“Federal study finds nation’s assisted suicide laws rife with dangers to people with disabilities.”

NCD’s release [https://ncd.gov/newsroom/2019/federal-study-assisted-suicide-lawson the report focuses on “a federal examination of the country’s assisted suicide laws and their effect on people with disabilities, finding that the assisted suicide law safeguards are ineffective and oversight of abuses and mistakes are absent.” 

Editor’s note. This appeared on Mr. Schadenberg’s blog [http://alexschadenberg.blogspot.com/2020/03/un-disability-expert-concerned-about.html] and is reposted with permission.