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A key feature of WACDA's "all of the above" approach is legislative advocacy. We actively advocate on policy and legislation. We seek to shape the future of disability rights in Washington and beyond. See below to learn more about our position on important issues and legislation. 

Physician-Assisted Suicide (PAS)

Physician-assisted suicide (PAS) is a practice in which a physician prescribes a drug which is intended to end the life of the patient who takes it. In recent years, PAS has become legal in more and more jurisdictions, including in Washington. Many nations which have fully legalized PAS have extended its use beyond the terminally ill, allowing for those with long-term disabilities or even acute mental illnesses to commit physician-assisted suicide.


From a disability rights perspective, the legalization of physician-assisted suicide raises profound concerns about the potential for discrimination, coercion, and the devaluation of the lives of people with disabilities. Legalizing physician-assisted suicide could perpetuate harmful stereotypes and societal attitudes that equate disability with suffering, dependency, and a diminished quality of life. This narrative undermines the inherent worth and dignity of individuals with disabilities and reinforces ableist notions that some lives are not worth living. By offering death as a solution to the challenges and complexities of living with a disability, society risks sending a message that disability is inherently tragic or undesirable, further marginalizing and stigmatizing individuals with disabilities.

Moreover, the legalization of physician-assisted suicide may exacerbate existing disparities in healthcare access and support services for people with disabilities. In a healthcare system that already struggles to provide adequate resources and accommodations for individuals with disabilities, legalizing physician-assisted suicide could create perverse incentives for healthcare providers and insurers to steer patients toward assisted death rather than investing in comprehensive palliative care, pain management, and disability-inclusive support services. This could further marginalize individuals with disabilities and reinforce systemic barriers to equitable healthcare access, perpetuating cycles of neglect, discrimination, and social exclusion.

Furthermore, the legalization of physician-assisted suicide poses significant risks of abuse, coercion, and undue influence, particularly for individuals with disabilities who may already experience vulnerability and dependence on caregivers or support networks. The power dynamics inherent in the healthcare system, combined with societal prejudices and financial pressures, could create situations where individuals with disabilities feel compelled or coerced into choosing death over life. Legalizing physician-assisted suicide without robust safeguards and protections for individuals with disabilities could undermine their autonomy, undermine their right to equal treatment under the law, and erode societal commitments to dignity, respect, and inclusion for all. As such, disability rights advocates emphasize the importance of prioritizing access to quality healthcare, supportive services, and social inclusion for individuals with disabilities, rather than resorting to assisted suicide as a response to systemic failures and ableist attitudes.

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