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Independent Living News & Policy from the National Council on Independent Living

Organizers Forum: Disability Advocates Lead the Fight Against Doctor-Prescribed Suicide Laws

  • Tuesday, June 16, 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. Eastern
  • Call-in: 1-860-970-0300
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Disability rights advocates from a broad spectrum of groups are leading the fight against doctor-assisted suicide laws. Contrary to proponents’ claims, these laws do not give individuals the choice in how they die. Instead, these laws give that choice to doctors. Anyone could ask for assisted suicide, but doctors decide who’s eligible, who’s expected to die in six months and who isn’t, whose judgment is impaired and whose is not, who’s being pressured and who is not.

Advocates from the Maryland Arc, the California protection and advocacy system, as well as Not Dead Yet leaders will describe and respond to questions about the efforts so far in 2015. 

Diane Coleman is founder, president and CEO of Not Dead Yet, the national disability advocacy group formed in 1996 to organize disability community opposition to assisted suicide and euthanasia. Not Dead Yet organized friend of the court briefs (joined by NCIL among others) in the Montana and New Mexico court cases in 2009 and 2014, and operates an ongoing disability blog on the issues. NDY also organizes direct actions opposing assisted suicide laws, including a three-day protest in 2014 in Chicago by independent living and ADAPT advocates against the World Federation of Right to Die Societies, an international euthanasia group.

Richard Davis is the Director of Public Policy for The Arc Maryland and is also the leader of the state’s Disability Response Team (DRT), a multi-disciplinary partnership with law enforcement, legal professionals, victim service providers, self-advocates, and other disability rights organizations coordinated through The Arc U.S. National Center on Criminal Justice and Disability (NCCJD). Richard was the 2013 Disability Policy Leadership Fellow at the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) in Washington, DC and was also a Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND) Fellow at the UT Health Science Center in Houston, TX. He received his MSW degree from the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work.

Deborah Doctor is Legislative Advocate, Legislative and Public Information Unit, for Disability Rights California, California’s protection and advocacy system, where she has worked 14 years, specializing in public policy on long term services and supports. She has worked on alternatives to institutional long term care since 1980, and worked previously at DREDF and the Public Authority for In Home Supportive Services in Alameda County. She has an Executive Masters in Management and Disability Services from the University of San Francisco.

John Kelly, longtime Boston-based disability rights advocate and writer, led the Massachusetts campaign as director of Second Thoughts: People with Disabilities Opposing the Legalization of Assisted Suicide. He appeared on television, radio, in print, and presented the disability rights perspective in public forums on behalf of the entire opposition coalition. He is currently New England Regional Director for Not Dead Yet, and worked extensively with independent living advocates in CT, NH, NJ and MA in 2014 to oppose assisted suicide legislation. John also assists in developing testimony for NDY advocates across the country.



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Because we want to maximize the generously donated CART services, we will begin the call promptly at 1pm and end the call promptly at 2:00 p.m. Eastern.


Mark your calendars! The Organizer’s Forum has a call on the 3rd Tuesday of each month, 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. Eastern.

Background: The Organizing Workgroup of the National Disability Leadership Alliance hosts these calls the third Tuesday of every month as a resource for disability organizers, in an effort toward building the organizing capacity of the disability community across the country. They generally follow the format of a Welcome followed by 2-3 experts in a given area speaking for a few minutes on their experiences, advice and challenges. The calls include a 20-30 minute question and answer period.

The National Disability Leadership Alliance (NDLA) is a national cross-disability coalition that represents the authentic voice of people with disabilities. To subscribe to the list, send a request to

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