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Assisted Suicide Study Document Available From NCC
Document Focuses on Assisted Suicide’s Danger for People With Disabilities 

June 15, 2000, NEW YORK CITY -- After nearly two years of research, the National Council of   Churches (NCC) Committee on Disabilities has issued a study document on “Assisted Suicide and the Quality of Life of Persons with Disabilities.” 

Designed to provide information about the issue of assisted suicide and the danger it poses for persons with disabilities, the document is not intended as an NCC policy statement.  

“We wanted to consider the ethical, legal and medical issues and the different points of view related to assisted suicide and to give a theological response,” said the Rev. Rosalie Norman-McNaney, of Valley Forge, Pa., staff representative for the NCC Committee on Disabilities. She is director of American Baptist Homes and Hospitals Association for National Ministries in Pennsylvania, part of the American Baptist Churches (ABC/USA).  

The 20-page study covers the gamut of the controversial topic, from theological perspectives and ethical concerns to Christian perspectives and other points of view.   

The Rev. Norman-McNaney stressed the importance and urgency of informing the public that assisted suicide is not an option for individuals who are disabled. “Assisted suicide is in direct contradiction to the belief that all are a part of the body of Christ-- including people with disabilities.  No one is dispensable or unnecessary,” she said. 

Currently, 47 of the United States do not differentiate between those with terminal illness and those with disabilities.  In other words, if one has a disability it is considered the same as having a terminal illness.  This document surfaces in this context to increase awareness on the rights of persons with disabilities. 

Written by John Pipe of Englewood, Colo., a retired American Baptist clergyman who lives with a spinal cord injury, the document encourages readers to get informed and get involved.   It provides them with a wealth of suggestions on how to do so, such as organizing a panel of doctors, nurses and pastors to raise consciousness about the issue. 

“Assisted Suicide and the Quality of Life of Persons with Disabilities” is available from the Rev. Rosalie Norman-McNaney, American Baptist Churches, P.O. Box 851, Valley Forge, PA, 19482-0851; email rosalie.mcnaney@abc-usa.org; phone 610-768-2411.   It also is available on the Web at http://www.ncccusa.org/nmu/mce/dis/suicide.html. 

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