• The Buffalo Tribune Team

Proposed euthanasia law called 'racist' by disability rights activist

Supporters of assisted dying have not yet stopped to consider the implications of medical racism, says a disability activist from Hamilton.


"Bill C-7 is anti-working class, racist said Sarah Jama who is with disability Justice Network of Ontario. "It makes it more accessible for people with mental health disabilities to kill themselves as a form of treatment without making mental health supports free."


The 26-year-old community organizer has previously called for health and disability-related support for minorities after the death of Joyce Echaquan, a 37-year-old indigenous woman who died in a Joliette hospital last fall. Staff were caught on camera insulting her as she died.


CTV News reports that Bill C-7 would " eliminate the requirement that death be "reasonably foreseeable" to qualify for an assisted death, but it also sets up two eligibility tracks -- relaxing some rules for those who are near death and imposing stricter conditions for those who are not." Jama is worried how this bill will affect people with disabilities; she claims legislators are listening to "assisted-death advocacy groups predominantly representing wealthier white people" who are afraid to live with disability. Other people with disabilities have had their voices go unheard, Jama says: "A lot of the people he consulted were upper middle-class white people, doctors and lawyers, and that's not representative of the disability community. This bill has got to be stopped, or it will end the life of people [with] too many people with disabilities who feel they have no other options."


According to Gerard Quinn, the special rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities, Bill C-7 may violate the right of people with disabilities to live; a right that is protected under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It remains to be seen if the courts will take this into consideration, or if they will strike down euthanasia law as unconstitutional.



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