Do People with Disabilities Have the Right to Death?

med team examines patientWhen the movie Me Before You premiered it was met by controversy. People throughout the disability community believed the movie delivered a message that the life of a person with disabilities was not worth living. Now, a real life scenario like the movie is playing out in Wisconsin, and disability advocates are furious.

The Right to Death and People with Disabilities

A 14-year-old girl living in Appleton, Wisconsin has spinal muscular atrophy type 2. She has undergone at least 30 surgeries, yet she can barely move. She tells doctors and her parents that she is in pain all the time. She also tells them that she wants to die.

This young girl with disabilities has plans to go into hospice care where she will shut off her breathing devices and slowly die. Her parents offer no resistance to her plans. They claim that they love their daughter enough that they will not let her suffer if the pain is too bad, and so they seem to be going along with the girl’s plans.

Her last wish was to dance at prom, so her mother and friends held a special dance to send her off. Now that this final wish is finished, she seems ready to go, but disability rights organizations all over the country are saying, “wait just a minute!”

How Young Is Too Young?

Groups all over the country have sent letters to Wisconsin’s Department of Children and Families asking for the department to intervene. They say that a 14-year-old is not emotionally developed enough to decide whether their life is worth living or not. One of the groups even points out that we don’t let 14-year-olds vote, join the military or make their own medical decision, so why would they be allowed to end their own lives.

For now, Wisconsin authorities have made no moves to stop the girl’s plans. However, disability rights groups are proposing better pain management care as well as suicide prevention measures to save this teenager’s life. In the meantime, the clock is ticking closer to the end of the girl’s plan.

Do you think this 14-year-old has the right to end her own life? Do you think the advocacy groups begging for government intervention are right? Head on to our Twitter and Facebook to tell us where you stand on this issue, and keep checking back with your Tulsa disability attorneys to find out how this case ends.


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