Author: Wendy Perez
I was very pleased that the Assisted Dying Bill did not get passed in Parliament. I am a woman with learning disabilities and I was very angry when I heard about this Bill.
It was very dangerous. People with learning disabilities and their families know that in hospitals many decisions get made without people fully understanding their rights or being given the right information or treatment.
I have learnt myself the hard way that you need to stick up for yourself, ask questions and not just say ‘yes.’ Sometimes families, friends or supporters say ‘yes’ to doctors on your behalf when they shouldn’t. Sometimes you don’t get privacy and people you don’t trust are included in decisions. People need to talk to you directly, not behind your back, or as if you can’t understand.
There are lots of problems for people with learning disabilities in the hospital system. Some of these problems were described in Death by Indifference, which was published in 2007. Now, and in the past, there has been a lot of negligence in hospital. Sometimes doctors have ended the lives of people with learning disabilities, even without asking.
There are several reasons why doctors and other professionals may influence decisions in the wrong way:
We don’t need to be encouraging people to commit suicide or allowing doctors more power to end people’s lives.
People with learning disabilities need better healthcare, and more control over what happens. They need as much information as they can take, so they can make decisions, by themselves with or without support.
Doctors should have more training about giving information in the right way. They need to understand what each person or family needs themselves. Give them the right information and control over decisions and then work together.
Never forget that we are real people - don’t focus on the budget.
When our health is poor then it is an emotional time.
Listen and work together.
The publisher is the Centre for Welfare Reform.
Why I was worried by the Assisted Dying Bill © Wendy Perez 2015.
All Rights Reserved. No part of this paper may be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher except for the quotation of brief passages in reviews.
Wendy Perez says people with learning (intellectual) disabilities have the right to the same life as the rest of us.
People with learning disabilities often get help that isn't very helpful. Wendy Perez explains what help really means.
Simon Duffy and Wendy Perez have written this accessible guide to citizenship - what it means and how to achieve it. This guide is part of the Citizenship for All project.