This is written by Diane Coleman, president of disability rights organization Not Dead Yet, from an op-ed in the North Country Gazette:
Every time the courtroom doors opened during Jack Kevorkian’s weeklong trial in 1999, security guards allowed two wheelchair users to enter and sit in designated spaces, as well as three disabled but walking advocates, all representatives of the group Not Dead Yet. We rotated the opportunity to be in the courtroom among about 40 disability activists who came from several states to represent the majority of Kevorkian’s body count, people with non-terminal disabilities.Read the rest here.
Kevorkian had been quoted in Time Magazine to say he would love to debate the critics who charge that he is too hasty in deciding who may die. “I will argue with them if they will allow themselves to be strapped to a wheelchair for 72 hours so they can’t move, and they are catheterized and they are placed on the toilet and fed and bathed. Then they can sit in a chair and debate with me.”
In response, our leaflets simply stated, “We’re here, and we demand the equal protection of the law: Jail Jack.”
Kevorkian claims involvement in over 130 deaths, and it’s been irrefutably documented in such respected publications as the New England Journal of Medicine that over 70% were not terminally ill, and 70% were women. Many disability rights advocates view him as a serial killer of people with disabilities.
Why is this important now? Because Kevorkian was recently released from jail and the misinformation about his actions and motives continues.
I do believe reasonable people can disagree about the issue of assisted suicide, provided they understand fully the inequality of providing the "freedom to die" for a class of people routinely denied basic freedoms to live. But Kevorkian has no place being named a hero for his actions.
Cross-posted at The Gimp Parade