THE BLOG
11/09/2015 05:41 BST | Updated 10/09/2016 06:12 BST

We Should Be Pushing for Better Assisted Living, Not Assisted Dying

Disabled people are being cast as uncompassionate for opposing this bill. But we are not the people who lack compassion. We understand what it is like to suffer and to have limited options.

Those pushing this bill talk about having choice. Their main weapons are misinformation, emotion and fear - fear about pain, dependence and disability. But I speak on behalf of many vulnerable sick and disabled people who are unable to speak in their own defence.

We don't need this law. Suicide is already legal and everyone who is serious enough about it is already able to kill themselves. And those who cannot do so - people like Tony Nicklinson and Daniel James - would not qualify for it anyway because they are not terminally ill.

This bill is really about people who want someone else to do it for them. It's about socially approved suicide. It's about making suicide socially acceptable when it is actually something we should be trying to prevent.

Proponents say they only want suicide for people with terminal illnesses. And yet they also say they want to prevent vulnerable people - say with mental illnesses - from committing suicide. But many people with terminal illnesses are not desperate to die and many people without terminal illnesses are. It doesn't add up.

So why do we have one law for one group and another law for the other? This is really just discrimination. It's saying that it is good for people who are terminally ill to kill themselves - but bad for younger people with mental illness to do so.

But we can't on the one hand push for suicide prevention for one group of people and encourage suicide for another group. This is a dangerous and confusing mixed message.

I am terrified by this bill. I am terrified because as a disabled person I have experienced first-hand how poorly our society values disabled people. It's the same with elderly people.

I'm always been told, 'If I was like you I'd kill myself'. 'If I was like you I'd want to die' There are people who sincerely believe that people like me are better off dead.

But I don't want to die. And to talk about the choice of killing ourselves when so many vulnerable and disabled people do not have a real choice about basic care, housing and support is to put us in a very dangerous position indeed. It will subtly steer us toward suicide.

This is really serious. It's about life and death. If this bill becomes law some disabled and vulnerable people will be subjected to exploitation and abuse by people who have an interest in their deaths and they will die as a result.

The very reason we don't allow capital punishment in this society is because the best police investigation and the best judges can come to the wrong conclusion and execute an innocent person.

This bill if passed will also mean that some innocent people get killed. The current law protects people against this kind of abuse. It does not need changing.

We would all prefer a pain free death with dignity. But this law is not the way to achieve it. Anyone can have worth and dignity if they have proper care and support - and that's what we should be pushing for. Assisted living not assisted dying.