A disabled rights advocate says a Winnipeg man who wants a physician-assisted death reflects a "bleak" societal attitude: "He would rather be dead than disabled."
"For me it's sad that he would rather die than be in a wheelchair," said Allen Mankewich, co-chair of the Manitoba League of Persons with Disabilities.
"And many people would agree with him."
Mankewich was responding to a CBC story Thursday about "John" (not his real name), a Winnipeg retiree living with multiple medical conditions, which will at some point rob him of the ability to walk. As a result, John wants to die, with the help of a doctor, and is waiting for physician-assisted death legislation to be crafted this summer.
Mankewich noted that even though John's condition is not terminal, his request might be deemed reasonable, all because of society's "able-ist" mentality.
"Our society equates quality of life with the absence of disability," Mankewich said, adding "if I found the right doctor, I could string them along to believe I need an assisted death."
"If I found the right doctor, I could string them along to believe I need an assisted death." - Allen Mankewich, co-chair of the Manitoba League of Persons With Disabilities
In February of 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down a ban on physician-assisted deaths. Last Friday, the committee of MPs and Senators tasked with crafting the new law were given an extension: They now have an extra four months to hammer out the legislation and are expected to finish it by June.
Mankewich said the law will give liberty to physicians who think a disabled person's medical needs are so challenging, they won't rush to talk them out of any suicidal thoughts. Or family members, covertly, will give them the signal that they've become "a burden."
Furthermore, he said, there are no safeguards the lawmakers could include in the legislation, that would protect disabled persons from being targeted.
"They can't," Mankewich said. "As long as it's legal, disabled people will be at risk."