Health professionals, disability, and assisted suicide: an examination of relevant empirical evidence and reply to Batavia

Psychol Public Policy Law. 2000 Jun;6(2):526-45.


Prominent disability rights groups have adopted positions opposing the legalization of assisted suicide. That physicians and other health professionals would assist in suicides of persons with incurable conditions while offering suicide prevention to "healthy" individuals is, they maintain, evidence of social discrimination and an unwarranted devaluation of the quality of life of people with disabilities. This article examines empirical literature relevant to the question. Is there evidence that disability affects life in a manner that justifies an exception to the general practice of preventing rather than endorsing suicide? Research findings are discussed in terms of their bearing on the disability rights opposition to physician-assisted suicide and the need for research addressing the dynamics of death requests of persons with disabilities.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Disabled Persons*
  • Empirical Research
  • Humans
  • Life Support Care
  • Physicians
  • Prejudice*
  • Quality of Life
  • Suicide, Assisted / psychology*