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Assisted Suicide


DREDF, along with numerous other nationally prominent disability organizations, opposes the legalization of assisted suicide and euthanasia.

Legalization is a serious mistake for many reasons that are not always immediately apparent. Supporters often focus solely on issues of choice and self-determination, but actually, legalization would restrict choice and self-determination.

It is crucial to look deeper. For example, assisted suicide would be a deadly mix with our broken, profit-driven health care system.

It is imperative to distinguish personal wishes from the significant dangers to society of legalizing assisted suicide as public policy. The legalization of assisted suicide has many harmful consequences.

Find out why DREDF regards the legalization of assisted suicide as a dangerous mistake.


See below regarding assisted suicide. Or read about the dangerous campaign by assisted suicide proponents for so-called "End-of-Life-Care / Patients Right to Know Acts."



  1. Read DREDF's updated statement, Why Assisted Suicide Must Not Be Legalized.

  2. See short DREDF handout summarizing our Key Objections to the Legalization of Assisted Suicide.

  3. DREDF's overview of the assisted suicide issue, Killing Us Softly: The Dangers of Legalizing Assisted Suicide, was published in the Disability and Health Journal, January 2010.

  4. Read Op Eds by Marilyn Golden, DREDF Policy Analyst:

    1. An Op Ed targeted at progressive readers in Beyond Chron, April 12, 2005

    2. An Op Ed in the Sacramento, California Capitol Weekly, April 26, 2007

    3. An Op Ed in the San Jose Mercury News, March 1, 2007

B. Other Short Handouts

  1. See the lists of disability organizations and individuals who oppose the legalization of assisted suicide

    1. See the list of national and California disability organizations

    2. See the list of Washington state and national disability organizations and individuals

  2. See a one-page summary of Some Oregon Abuses and Complications

  3. Attempts to Legalize Euthanasia/Assisted Suicide in the United States shows the many failed attempts to legalize assisted suicide, and the few that have succeeded.

  4. See a one-page summary of The Risks of Legalization

  5. See three one-page leaflets about assisted suicide in Oregon, compiled by Dr. Paul Longmore, Professor of History, San Francisco State University:

    1. Oregon's Death with Dignity Act and AB 374: Spurious Safeguards

    2. Oregon's Death with Dignity Act and AB 374: Flimsy Reporting, No Regulation

    3. Oregon's Death with Dignity Act: Pro-Suicide Doctors

C. Medical

  1. Read an important article from the Michigan Law Review, June 2008, entitled "PHYSICIAN–ASSISTED SUICIDE IN OREGON: A MEDICAL PERSPECTIVE" which describes how "seemingly reasonable safeguards for the .. protection of terminally ill patients written into the Oregon law are being circumvented ... primarily [due to] the Oregon Public Health Division, which is charged with monitoring the law."

    The article was written by Dr. Herbert Hendin and Dr. Kathleen Foley. Herbert Hendin is Chief Executive Officer and Medical Director, Suicide Prevention International, and Professor of Psychiatry, New York Medical College. Kathleen Foley is Attending Neurologist, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center; Professor of Neurology, Neuroscience, and Clinical Pharmacology, Weill Medical College of Cornell University; and Medical Director, International Palliative Care Initiative of the Open Society Institute.

  2. Read testimony by Dr. Gregory Hamilton focusing on problems posed by assisted suicide in Oregon for people with mental health disabilities. Dr. Hamilton is Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and Co-founder of Physicians for Compassionate Care.

  3. Read testimony by Dr. Rex Greene to the California Medical Association in 2006. Dr. Greene is the former Medical Director of the Dorothy E. Schneider Cancer Center at Mills Health Center in San Mateo, California; currently a member of the AMA Ethics Council; and a leader in bioethics, health policy and oncology.

  4. Read another article by Dr. Herbert Hendin about Oregon and the Netherlands in Psychiatric Times.

  5. Association of Northern California Oncologists & Medical Oncology Association of Southern California, Position Statement on Physician-Assisted Suicide and Opposition to AB 374, April 16, 2007.

D. Disability

  1. Read excellent article by Diane Coleman, President of Not Dead Yet, on the website of the American Bar Association entitled "Assisted Suicide and Disability: Another Perspective," which lays out some basic tenets of the disability rights movement's critique of the legalization of assisted suicide. Not Dead Yet represents the disability rights movement's opposition to assisted suicide and euthanasia.

  2. Read Diane Coleman's testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee about Not Dead Yet, the culture war, the link between disability and assisted suicide, third-party decisionmakers, the Wendland and Schiavo cases, futility policies, and health care rationing.

  3. Read Diane Coleman's draft memo for the National Council on Disability about how assisted suicide devalues the lives of people with disabilities, as reflected in the case of Terri Schiavo and other instances of withdrawing life support.

  4. Read Carol Gill's excellent article in the Disability and Health Journal, January 2010, responding to distortions of disability rights arguments against assisted suicide.

  5. Read the disability rights brief to the Montana Supreme Court. The brief explains that there is no legitimate state interest, let alone a compelling one, for finding a constitutional right to assisted suicide for all or some (e.g. "terminal") people with disabilities. It degrades the value and worth of people with disabilities and violates the rights enshrined in the Americans with Disabilities Act.

  6. A Bioethicist Offers An Apology

E. Other Important Readings

  1. Important article by Margaret Dore on the King County Bar Association (Seattle, Washington) website about how assisted suicide increases elder abuse and decreases self-determination.

  2. Read the brief from the International Task Force on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide to the Montana Supreme Court, which shows how assisted suicide in Oregon lacks transparency and provides a false sense of protection; health insurance programs will authorize assisted suicide over more costly medical treatment; and legalized assisted suicide masks domestic and elder abuse.

  3. Read short article by John Ruhl and William Watts, M.D., on the King County Bar Association (Seattle, Washington) website explaining the pitfalls of the new Washington State law.

  4. See a chart showing Oregon Physician-Assisted Suicide: Theory vs. Practice, compiled by Dr. Robert D. Orr, President of the Vermont Alliance for Ethical Health Care.

  5. See a 2004 study from the Journal of Palliative Care showing a reduction in the quality of palliative care at end-of-life in Oregon since assisted suicide began.

    1. Press release about the study

    2. The study itself

  6. Read the book The Case Against Assisted Suicide - For the Right to End-of-Life Care, edited by Kathleen Foley, M.D., and Herbert Hendin, M.D., John Hopkins University Press, 2002, $26.95 in paperback.

    Two outstanding chapters are:

    1. Chapter 8, "Oregon's Culture of Silence" by Dr. Gregory Hamilton. Dr. Hamilton is Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and Co-founder of Physicians for Compassionate Care.

    2. Chapter 10, "Not Dead Yet" by Diane Coleman, President of Not Dead Yet.

  7. Read DREDF's old statement against the legalization of assisted suicide.

F. Links

  1. Not Dead Yet (NDY)

  2. Patients RIghts Council

  3. Physicians for Compassionate Care (PCC)

  4. Californians Against Assisted Suicide

  5. California Disability Alliance (CDA)