Friday, September 03, 2004

Not Dead Yet

One organization that has emerged as a leading advocate for Terri Schiavo is Not Dead Yet, a disability-rights organization. Not Dead Yet was founded 1996, as a response to Jack (Dr. Death) Kevorkian, after he was acquitted in the assisted suicides of two women with non-terminal disabilities.

Not Dead Yet, in conjunction with other disability-rights groups, filed two Amici Curiae ("friend of the court") briefs in the recent Florida Supreme Court case concerning "Terri's Law".

Diane Coleman, the president of Not Dead Yet, published an editorial in Tuesday's Florida Today.

From Coleman's perspective, Terri's case is about the rights and dignity of the disabled:
...The life-and-death issues surrounding Terri Schiavo are first and foremost disability rights issues -- issues that ultimately affect millions of Americans, old and young.

These issues apply directly and immediately to thousands of people with disabilities who, like Schiavo, cannot currently process information or articulate their views to the extent that health-care providers require, and so must rely on others as substitute decision-makers.

Coleman, along with other disabled-rights advocates and myself, also sees that the legal process is being used to run roughshod over the rights of the disabled:
In the modern-day United States, bioethicists are working to dismantle the due process part of the Bill of Rights that has previously protected people in guardianship from wrongful decisions to withhold life-sustaining medical treatment.

They would misuse the right of privacy to supplant the right of due process, so that they may kill behind the closed doors of a room in a hospital or nursing home.

With abortion, and, increasingly with regard to those whose lives are for one reason or another considered not worth living, the "right to privacy" has become the "right to kill".