Colorado Disability Rights Advocates Hold ‘Funeral March’ to Protest Assisted Suicide Legislation

By Lauretta Brown | August 10, 2016 | 2:36pm EDT
In this Feb. 6, 1991 photo, Dr. Jack Kevorkian, left, listens as his attorney, Geoffrey N. Fieger, talks with reporters, after return of the Suicide Machine. (AP Photo)

( – Disability rights advocates from the groups ADAPT and Not Dead Yet held a “funeral march” to the secretary of state office in Colorado on Monday to protest a proposed ballot initiative, which will likely end up on Colorado’s November ballot, that would legalize assisted suicide in some cases.

The Colorado End-of-Life Options Act would allow someone suffering from a terminal illness with a prognosis of six months or less to receive life-ending drugs if the individual expresses a voluntary wish for such a prescription and is deemed by a physician to have “mental capacity.”

Proponents of the ballot initiative delivered more than 160,000 signatures last week to the secretary of state’s office, according to the Colorado Independent, which is more than the number necessary to get the measure on the ballot in November. The office has 30 days to ensure that at least 98,492 signatures are valid. 

The protesters marched two and a half miles from the Atlantis Community Center to the Colorado secretary of state’s office where they held a wreath laying ceremony.

“We are engaging in this street theater to educate the community about how legalization of assisted suicide will cause people to needlessly lose their lives through mistakes, coercion and abuse,” said Dawn Russell, an ADAPT advocate in a press statement preceding the march.

ADAPT is “a national grass-roots community that organizes disability rights activists to engage in nonviolent direct action, including civil disobedience, to assure the civil and human rights of people with disabilities to live in freedom.”

“Elder abuse, and abuse of people with disabilities, are a rising problem,” said Anita Cameron, another ADAPT advocate, and Not Dead Yet board member. “With legalized physician-assisted suicide, an heir or abusive caregiver may steer someone towards assisted suicide, witness the request, pick up the lethal dose, and even give the drug — no witnesses are required at the death, so who would know?”

“Colorado’s suicide rate is among the highest in the nation,” Cameron added.  “This bill will promote suicide to one class of disabled citizens, rather than provide suicide prevention. That is discrimination.”

Not Dead Yet is “a national, grassroots disability rights group that opposes legalization of assisted suicide and euthanasia as deadly forms of discrimination against old, ill and disabled people. Not Dead Yet helps organize and articulate opposition to these practices based on secular social justice arguments. Not Dead Yet demands the equal protection of the law for the targets of so called ‘mercy killing’ whose lives are seen as worth-less.”

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