Wednesday 26 January 2011

Euthanasia Kits. Joke or Tragic Truth?

What Do They Know? is a fascinating website. You can submit Freedom of Information requests through it, and view the requests submitted by others, as well as the responses from the various public sector organisations. So you can do a search for, say, work capability assessment and see all the requests and responses made through the site, or search for your local area, or hospital, or a government department.

But when someone sent me a link to this FOI request to the DWP about euthanasia options for those who are removed off DLA / ESA I assumed it was going to be a joke. It turned out, in fact, to be horribly, chillingly apt.

The request by Stuart Wyatt begins,
With your department aiming to remove the benefits from 25% of DLA
claimants, and deem 91% of ESA claimants as fit for work, please
could you inform me what provisions have been made for those
disabled and sick people to choose a quick and painless death in
preference to slow and painful death by starvation, neglect or
and goes on to ask whether ATOS will therefore be providing suicide kits.

The same man has made a video of telephone calls to ATOS asking for the same information.

It would be funny if it wasn't so damn true.

Back to the Freedomof Information request, the DWP have to reply by the 21st February, so do check for their response.


  1. I don't want to die :-( I dont want them to deem me unimportant just because I am disabled - I mean - Look at Stephen Hawking - He is amazing and yet he is very disabled! Will they euthanise him also?

  2. Haha, thanks Stuart Wyatt, whoever you are!

    Oh wow - my captcha was 'ablednes'! Is that you IDS?

  3. The thing about Stephen Hawking is he was not always disabled; he was walking and on the rowing team at his alma mater long before his illness hit. Ergo, he had proven he had the brain the size of a planet and they didn't want to lose him.

    Personally, and I know it's an unpopular view, but if I reach a certain point I will go for the euthanisation. I know not everyone has such a blase approach to death but I'm more peeved I don't have the option to choose when my time is up than anything else. I don't want to be written off...but at the same time I don't want to be forced to endure when I've had enough.

  4. I have no problem with choice, well set around with fever trees to ensure the choice is genuinely free and pressure isn't brought to bear. Margot MacDonald's proposal to the Scottish Parliament - it was defeated- included the very Roman Law provision that consent had to be given by the disabled person alone, without their family or friends surrounding them, but this was misinterpreted as "sinister" by one commenter.

    Much depends on method and choice. In CHILDREN OF MEN the film, the "Quietus" provided by the government to the aging population that's gone sterile is a painless pill for home use. In the original novel by PD James the frail and demented elderly who can no longer care for themselves are drugged to the eyeballs and taken to the seaside where they're chained into boats that are then sunk. (Novel is good. Would recommend it.)

  5. Thank you Stuart excellent job of handling the call handlers at ATOs especially at the end when she is asking you to put your request in writing.

  6. The point of this is the euthanasia 'choice' is being pushed on us by economics. I have a disabled friend who has been told by a member of her own family, that she is unsustainable. The combination of these savage cuts and the horrific demoralising and inflammatory media view of us all as being scroungers, is making life extremely difficult. Many of us have to go through the extremely difficult adjustment of being fit and healthy and then having to stop work, deal with pain, lose partners who cannot cope with our illnesses or disabilites. To overcome alll these hurdles is difficult enough. To then have all this other stuff piled on top and fear the reduction in our benefits will result in homelessness and starvation. This is unfortunately an accurate portrayal of how many of us are feeling.

  7. Yes, I'm a strong supporter of the availability of legalised assisted suicide. My aunt died recently - she had a returned and now quickly spreading cancer. She had been a great traveller all her life and being trapped in a chair and a morphine drip was, to her, not a life. Not that she had that long to wait. She lived in Washington state where they have humane laws, so she was able to take a physician-prescribed lethal dose of barbiturates. She went in her own time, with family and friends there - and high hopes for the next trip.

    Which is - as the commenter above noted - not at all the same thing s having those who wish to live being told to die for economic reasons.

    I wonder what that family meant when she said someone was "unsustainable" - was she proposing to assist in a suicide? I think I would have said, "Well, you get the gun and pull the trigger and I'll do the dying. After all we're all in this together."