In my little corner of the world (Alberta, Canada) there is an issue raging about government cutbacks to support services for people with severe disabilities. Disabled Albertans feel threatened — and with good reason. Many of the support services that will be cut provide personal daily care that will directly impact the ability of disabled people to function, live in their communities and participate in society.
For instance, I know a highly educated woman with severe cerebral palsy. She has so much to offer the world but needs physical support services to do it. Her name is Heidi Janz. Recently, Dr. Janz wrote a letter to the Edmonton Journal newspaper articulating what a loss of flexible supports, tailored to her needs, will mean to her. She stated:
“…this flexible support has made it possible for me to work as a professor at the University of Alberta, travel and speak at conferences and so on. The demise of this support service will, in effect, herald the end of my active career.”
As I say, Dr. Janz has so much to give to our community but she needs some help because of cerebral palsy. She’s not asking for much and it’s not much to provide when we consider that the benefits far outweigh the costs.
Support services to people with disabilities enables them to pursue careers, hold down jobs, go to school or volunteer in their communities. What will happen without proper levels of support? Dr. Janz states bluntly “We will again become isolated.”
Is Dr. Janz exaggerating to make a point? I don’t think so. People with disabilities in Canada have fought hard for more than three decades for the ideal of inclusion within society. Each gain has been hard-won. Getting flexible supports for daily living and home care are critically important to full inclusion and life with dignity.
For those of us who have fought against acceptance of assisted suicide — falsely promoted as death with dignity — we know that proper supports and care for people who are chronically ill or disabled are an important component in countering the superficial allure of the ‘death with dignity’ mindset.
Granted, there are many other aspects to living with dignity that touch on the emotional and spiritual components of the human condition … but the practical side of life is important too. Support services may include assistance for dressing, eating, bathing, cleanliness and house-keeping, range of motion exercises, etc. Home care brings medical care to people in their homes.
What’s happening to disabled people in my corner of the world is not unique. It’s important that Pro-Life advocates everywhere help people with serious chronic illnesses and disabilities get and keep flexible and timely supports and care services they need. Make no mistake about it: It is an important part of successfully resisting euthanasia and assisted suicide pressures.
Life with dignity has many aspects. Life advocates must champion them all. Please work in your area to make sure they are in place.