Sunday, January 6, 2008

Tools of Oppression and Prejudice

Fear is the major tool used by the forces of oppression and prejudice to allow discrimination of people those forces deem "unworthy." Sadly, all too often that includes people with disabilities.

The forces behind the effort to legalize assisted suicide in Washington State (the former Hemlock Society) have decided whose life is "worthy" and whose is "not worthy." They say the life of the "terminally ill" is not "worth" living. So, they want to legally help them commit suicide.

This small group of people from the Hemlock Society wants to legalize assisted suicide using the Oregon "model." Let's remember what happened in 1921 when Washington followed the Oregon eugenics "model."

Washington was the second state to jump on the eugenics bandwagon, in 1909. We passed a second law in 1921, largely inspired by a statute in Oregon. The Oregon and Washington laws had nearly identical language, providing involuntary sterilization for the "feeble minded, insane, epileptic, habitual criminal, degenerates, and sexual perverts." This often included reform-school girls, welfare moms, the retarded, gays, and the physically disabled.

How Many People did Washington sterilize in the name of improving the gene pool? The best estimate is close to 700. Washington's law was overturned by the state Supreme Court in 1942; Oregon's stayed on the books into the 1980s, and more than 2,600 were sterilized there.

So, when those people say follow the Oregon "Model" on assisted suicide; I think "Not so much!"

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