Everything You Know Is Wrong,
Part Three

The Right to Die


hell's receptionist asking

TheeDoctor Kevorkian...?



Too many do-gooders, especially the ones who call themselves progressives, believe they'd rather die than be disabled. They rush to make sure that imperfect folks like us have what they call the right to die. In fact, what's being debated is the medical practitioner's right to kill us without risking criminal prosecution.


That right means zero to us. If we want to die, there are plenty of ways to get the job done, ways that don't involve giving doctors a special license to kill special people like us. We are incurable. Get used to it.




Look at it this way: there are 53 million people with disabilities in the USA alone. If we were so desperate to die, we'd be dropping off high buildings, hitting the pavement like rain. You'd have to climb over heaps of dead cripples to get to the bus stop in the morning.


Even Mark O'Brien, a poet who spent forty years in an iron lung -- pretty "helpless" by anybody's measure -- wrote that he could figure out how to off himself if he was of a mind to do it. So it's not fair to say that people with disabilities need special help to die. Seems like the folks who most dread being like us are the ones most interested in having us put down like old dogs. If they're so worried over our quality of life, how come they worry so little about our equality of life?


When you know that America's health care system is market-driven, why would you put death in physicians' market-driven hands? It's a fact: most people with disabilities are cheaper dead than alive. Seventy percent of us are unemployed, for starters. Many of us live at the mercy of Medicaid, a fate we wouldn't wish on our worst enemies. (Most health care "providers" don't accept Medicaid or even Medicare for payment. They'll tell you straight out: the pay is too poor.) So when we get a bad cold, or a heart attack, we gotta go to public hospital emergency rooms for care.

The real world bears no resemblance to Chicago Hope.


In 1994, the state of Oregon figured out how to save the state major health care dollars by rationing care. The majority of ailments whose care the state labeled "ineffecient" (and thus unworthy of treatment) were not terminal illnesses but disabilities. Today Oregon Medicaid recipients, if they happen to be disabled and depressed, can mail-order a dose of death. Progressives call this progress.*


If a woman with a disability gets depressed over her husband leaving her or the agony of psoriasis and says to her doctor that she wants to die, we believe doctors ought to Rx not a dose of death but the same counseling any other depressed patient receives. Meantime, we join the American Medical Association in opposing physician- assisted suicide. And we're wary of doctors who leap in to help folks die.

Sorry, but we gotta bring it up: The Nazi Holocaust's first targets -- in the Aktion T-4 program -- were people with disabilities. Hitler and his doctor buddies declared them "life unworthy of life" and practiced the first gas chambers on people like us. And it's not just Nazis. Ask any social Darwinist: In times of scarcity, we're the first to get sent out into the snowstorm to "disappear."

Ain't life grand?



This little essay is drawn from four years' worth of Mouth news coverage on the subject.


The cartoons are by Scott Chambers, cartoonist and keen observer of the inhuman condition, who may be reached via email at cal@mouthmag.com. Mouth bought the rights to use these cartoons first, but Scott holds the copyright. For reprint permission, address him directly.

Everything you know is wrong, Part Four



* P.S. We don't have a particular bone to pick with Progressives. Conservatives are just as wrong on disability issues. We've come to the sad conclusion that we're too special (and too poor) to have friends in politics.


The resistance to physician-insisted suicide is Not Dead Yet. You can reach them at the Progress Center for Independent Living, 7522 Madison Street, Forest Park IL 60130.


For recent news on Not Dead Yet, click here.

Cartoon of a woman cheerily pushing her shopping cart past two in-store displays. One is titled "Kill." The other "Be Killed."