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NCIL, Not Dead Yet, and Disability Rights Community Respond to the Tucker Hire

The National Council on Independent Living has signed on to the following letter to the Disability Rights Legal Center regarding its recent decision to hire Kathryn Tucker, formerly employed by Compassion & Choices, as the new executive director of DRLC.

Source: Not Dead Yet

September 13, 2014

Not Dead Yet LogoBoard of Directors
Disability Rights Legal Center
800 S. Figueroa St., Suite 1120
Los Angeles, CA 90017

Dear Board members, Disability Rights Legal Center:

We understand you have hired Kathryn Tucker as the new executive director of DRLC.

Many of the signatories to this letter have worked with DRLC for years, enjoyed our working relationship toward furthering disability rights, and appreciated the work of DRLC.

We wish to engage in dialogue with you about the serious concerns we have over Ms. Tucker’s work in her previous position at Compassion & Choices that has placed members of the disability community in significant danger.

As you probably know, many prominent disability rights organizations across the U.S. have taken formal positions opposing assisted suicide laws. The legalization of assisted suicide is a very serious problem, and is of the utmost importance to many in the disability community. Ms. Tucker’s actions have significantly and directly aided in establishing assisted suicide laws, and she has materially contributed to the efforts toward their further legalization, in state after state. While Ms. Tucker’s work on pain relief is laudable, it is overshadowed by her work toward the legalization of assisted suicide through her leadership role at Compassion & Choices.

As organizations many of which have partnered with DRLC in the past, and which hope to have productive collaborations with you in the future, we would be very troubled if the hiring of Ms. Tucker were seen as a message to the disability community—or to society at large—that the DRLC has taken, or may take in the future, an opposing position to that of the established disability community on the legalization of assisted suicide, isolating itself from its natural allies. 

Recognizing the difficulties raised by this past work of Ms. Tucker, we hope you will engage with us in dialogue about this issue and how it might play out, if at all, during her tenure at DRLC.

If you are unfamiliar with the issue’s complexities or with how extensively it is misunderstood by the general public, we refer you to DREDF’s public policy on assisted suicide to learn more.

We suggest a teleconference with you—and, if you like, Ms. Tucker and/or other staff—to consider the above questions.

On behalf of the organizations and individuals who have signed on below, please communicate with Marilyn Golden, Senior Policy Analyst, Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund (DREDF), mgolden@dredf.org, (510) 549-9339.

We look forward to hearing from you soon.

Read the list of signatories at the Not Dead Yet website.

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