Kelly, who described himself as a quadriplegic “paralyzed from the shoulders down” said that for him and others with severe disabilities, “quality of life” are “the most fearsome three words in the English language.”
“These laws promote writing-off people as having too low of a quality of life,” said Kelly. He added that the pandemic has further exacerbated this mentality, specifically mentioning the deaths of Michael Hickson and Sarah McSweeney, two people with disabilities.
During a hospitalization with pneumonia prior to the coronavirus pandemic, Kelly said that his brother was questioned by his doctor about his potential quality of life, something he said would not have happened if he had been able-bodied.
“How dare that doctor ask a question like that when he would not ask it of someone with a similar case of pneumonia but had a so-called normal life,” said Kelly.
“We ask people to just observe the crushing oppression of disabled people and the free-loading ideas in society that some people are better off dead than alive,” he said. “I could be a poster boy for the ‘better dead than disabled’ movement.”
Stephanie Packer, a California woman with scleroderma, spoke about how she had been denied coverage of treatment for her disease by Medi-Cal, California’s Medicaid program, but was offered drugs for her suicide for a copay of just $1.20.
“They don’t realize how dangerous these laws are,” said Parker, adding that her insurance company rationalized that it would be “cheaper” for her to die.
California, she said, even factored in cost saving when it was analyzing legalizing assisted suicide in the state legislature.
“California predicted beforehand that they would save money by covering lethal drugs,” she said.
“[Assisted suicide] is not who we are as people,” said Parker. “There are better ways. The voices of patients are being silenced right now, and they’re vulnerable of everything being pulled off because of money.”
Christine Rousselle is a former DC Correspondent for Catholic News Agency. Prior to working at CNA, she was the managing web editor of Townhall.com; she has a BA in political science from Providence College.