Monday 27 July 2009

Disabled people alarmed at nurses organisation new stance on assisted suicide

No Less Human (NLH), a disability rights group within SPUC, has expressed great alarm at the news that the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has moved from opposing assisted suicide to taking a neutral stance on the issue.

Alison Davis, national coordinator of NLH, who has spina bifida, hydrocephalus and other disabling conditions, and is a full time wheelchair user told the media this past weekend:
"As a group for disabled people, their families and carers, many of us have reason to remember with gratitude and affection the care and treatment given us from nurses, both in the past and currently.

"However, the RCN's shift from opposition to neutrality on assisted suicide sends out to disabled people and their supporters a very subtle but worrying message that we are not now as safe in the care of our nurses as we once were.

"This is true for me personally. In the past I felt able to implicitly trust my nurses, particularly at a time I remember well some years ago when I had a settled wish to die that lasted over ten years.

"Then I recall with much gratitude the care I received from one particular nurse who refused to accept my view that I was 'better off dead' and encouraged me to regain a will to live.

"Now I will no longer be able to trust my nurses so implicitly. I will have to wonder what his/her view is on the 'worth' and 'benefit' of my life, and whether they would support any decision I might make to ask for their 'assistance' in committing suicide.

"It is a terrifying thought, made worse by the knowledge that if Debbie Purdy were to win her case (asking clarification from the Director of Public Prosecutions to publish a policy of when he will or will not prosecute suicide 'assistants') it would be but a short step to allowing nurses to 'assist' suicides in this country.

"NLH strongly urges the RCN to revert to its position, held since 2004, of opposition to assisted suicide. If the RCN does not revert to its former position, it will work against the right of sick and disabled people to equal treatment."
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