Activists protest “right to die” conference

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This is a graphic including an outline of Illinois with a portion of the state flag inside it.

Not Dead Yet in Illinois

Disability rights activists held a three-day protest outside of an Embassy Suites Hotel in Chicago from September 18 to 20, which was hosting the annual meeting of the World Federation of Right to Die Societies.

“We are here to contradict the message of these groups that it’s better to be dead than disabled,” said Diane Coleman, CEO of Not Dead Yet, which organized the protests, in a news release.

Not Dead Yet was joined by protesters from its affiliate in Canada, where physician-assisted suicide just became legal in July in the Quebec province. They were also joined by activists from ADAPT.

Not Dead Yet, like many disability rights groups, opposes physician assisted suicide, which is legal in four states in the United States and multiple European countries. They argue that these laws create a slippery slope, incentivizing physicians and family members to encourage people to take their own lives, even if they are not terminally ill.

“They deserve to have the support, whatever treatment they need for depression, whatever home care they need so they don’t feel like they’re a burden on their family,” Diane Coleman, CEO of Not Dead Yet, told CBS News.

Proponents of physician assisted suicide retort that states with so-called “Death with Dignity” laws have safety measures ensuring the law applies only to terminally ill adults, such as provisions requiring the opinions of multiple physicians and waiting periods. In addition, they argue that people have a fundamental right to choose their means of dying.

“It’s an individual call of the person, not a judgment that anyone else can make,” said Frank Kavanaugh, a board member of the host group Final Exit Network, told CBS News.

The World Federation of Right to Die Societies, founded in 1980, consists of organizations from 26 countries who support physician-assisted suicide laws. This year marked the first time the United States hosted the annual conference since 2000.