CDA is a statewide, grassroots organization consisting of persons with disabilities and their supporters. Our membership has a broad agenda for promoting the health, independence and full community inclusion of persons with disabilities. Our work has been supported in part by grants from the Disability Rights Advocates Fund of the San Francisco Foundation and the Milbank Foundation for Rehabilitation.
CDA formed in the spring of 1999 in a successful effort to defeat Dion Aroner's "Death with Dignity Act" (California A.B. 1592). People with disabilities (PWDs), their friends, family members and supporters of human rights from up and down the state gathered energy and linked hands with workers groups, hospice associations, disability rights organizations, medical professionals, Catholics, the Berkeley City Council and others to accomplish this task.
Since that time we have worked hard to promote better health care through legislation, by opposing institutionalized care where health care can be provided within the community, and by advocating and alerting the community about changes in health regulations which impact the lives of persons with disabilities. CDA continues to oppose the legalization of assisted suicide and works to improve end-of-life care.
I'm sorry to report that AB 2747 (Berg-Levine) has been signed into law by California Gov. Arnold Scwhartzenegger.
This seemingly innocuous measure began as a stealth assisted suicide. Although opposition from CDA and our coalition partners succeeded in getting rid of the bill's earlier references to "palliative sedation" and voluntary stopping of eating and drinking (VSED), the measure still calls for discussion of end-of-life choices when a patient is considered "terminal" (defined in current California law as having a prognosis that death will occur within one year). As many people with disabilities know from experience, such prognoses are often wrong and can be influenced by deeply ingrained fears and stereotypes about disability. Unfortunately, the act also opens the door to having cost dominate consideration of end-of-life options--a very dangerous proposition for people with disabilities and/or serious health conditions that are expensive to treat.
Strong oppostion from CDA and our coalition partners made a tremendous difference by forcing backers of the bill to remove the most heinous and dangerous provisions. What remains needs monitoring to assure that the bill isn't used to promote assisted suicide instead of accomplishing solely its nominal purpose: open discussion of end-of-life choices at a terminal patient's request.
--Laura Remson Mitchell
Legislative Coordinator and Member, Executive Committee
California Disability Alliance
Last updated Nov. 5, 2008.
Site last updated November 05, 2008
California Disability Alliance Home Page address is http://www.disweb.org/cda/
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CDA web site hosted by DisWeb.org
The work of the California Disability Alliance has been supported in part by grants from The Disability Rights Advocates Fund of the San Francisco Foundation and The Milbank Foundation for Rehabilitation.