Futile care law – a death sentence for people with disabilities

I am frightened.

I’m watching how few people are signing this petition for Emilio despite the fact that the Futile Care Law allows a plug to be pulled on a human being over the wishes of his parents and family. It allows a date to be set to put a person with a disability to death and then gives a 10 day time period before it is carried out. It has no safeguards like the usual death penalty for criminals. There is no guarantee to any recourse. Once sentence is pronounced, the clock ticks.

This is even a further encroachment of the rights of those who live with disabilities. This baby’s mother has to sit by and can do nothing under this law to stop her own child from being put to death. It places our lives in the hands of a hospital’s ethics board. It allows that ethics board to determine what is in our best interest – and we are supposed to believe that the cost factor does not weigh into that.

I don’t want a hospital ethics board sentencing me to death one day. I know from living in our society, which worships those who look “perfect” just as it devalues those who are deemed imperfect, that my life is worth less in many peoples’ eyes because I have a disabiliity. There is no doubt in my mind that, in the hands of an ethics board, I could one day be subject to a decision, against the wishes of my loved ones, that my life is futile.

Why should I, or any person with a disability, be subject to a death sentence when we have committed no wrong? And yet I hear no outcry, not even from those who oppose the death sentence in the criminal justice sytem. Is this a different standard because the person who is being put to death is disabled? Are we as a society willing to be that blatant in our disregard and contempt for people with disabilities?

For those who choose to remain silent on this issue or fail to step up yet espouse that they believe in the equal value of human life, I am frightened. For those who are apathetic about this tragedy, I am frightened. For those who believe that this child’s life is worth less than your own, I am frightened.

We as disability advocates have stepped up and put this issue into view. We have done the work to make people aware. We have spoken up for those who cannot speak for themselves. We are telling you that Baby Emilio’s life is not worth less than any other child’s. His life is not “futile” to his mother who is fighting to keep him alive.

We are asking that his life be accorded the same dignity and respect that yours is or your child’s is. Many who are willing to stand by and allow this, I fear , will only understand when a loved one is in the same position.

Copyright 2007 Ruth Harrigan

Leave a comment

Filed under essay

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s