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Assisted Suicide Is Ableist

by Ashley Chilek

When an able-bodied person wants to harm themselves, we try to do everything in our power to stop them; we call it unnecessary, preventable, even wrong. When a disabled or suffering person wants to harm themselves, we call it dignified and justified. We call it okay, and allow ourselves to not only be bystanders in the destruction of human life, but also active participants in the suicide.

Proponents of assisted suicide deem it necessary because of the unbearable pain that those who desire to obtain it have to experience daily. But when looking at the numbers, this simply isn’t true. Most often, individuals seek suicide because of their loss of independence and because they feel they’ve become a burden on others. As the disability rights group Not Dead Yet says, this isn’t about public health, but rather about pushing death before disability. Many of those trying to access assisted suicide list loss of control and independence as a primary reason.

Based on additional research, other possible reasons for requesting physician assistance with dying also include:

  • Loss of sense of purpose

  • Unacceptable quality of life and/or inability to enjoy life

  • Loss of physical ability (for example, walking, or speaking)

  • Hopeless suffering and prospect of recovery

  • Loss of autonomy

Assisted suicide tells the disabled and suffering that if they have depression and mental illness, then unlike able-bodied persons, they are not worth treating, their suffering is not worth treating. If they feel like a burden, they deserve to die.

Instead of assisting in the deaths of the suffering and disabled, we should push for more aggressive care for those who are placed in vulnerable situations, for greater normalization of disabilities, and better hospice care. We should not devalue human life because it looks different than our own, but rather celebrate all lives and fight for a society that condemns all forms of violence, especially that against the self.


This article was sponsored by a generous patron.


Disclaimer: The views presented in the Rehumanize Blog do not necessarily represent the views of all members, contributors, or donors. We exist to present a forum for discussion within the Consistent Life Ethic, to promote discourse and present an opportunity for peer review and dialogue.

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