UK actress and disability advocate rails against assisted suicide with new documentary

An actress from the United Kingdom is speaking out against a proposal to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide in the country.

Liz Carr, who has been disabled since she was seven years old, recently created a documentary, “Better Off Dead,” which is scheduled to make its UK debut on May 14. The film aims to spark debate and open discussions about assisted suicide. 

Carr told Yahoo! News that part of her objective in creating the documentary was to help people see that those who are disabled can have a life full of activity and joy, just as she has with her friends. “I needed to let people into my world,” she said.

She also noted that those within the disability community often feel pressure once assisted suicide is permitted. 

“As long as there’s inequality, it is not safe to legalize assisted suicide,” she said on BBC Radio 4’s Women’s Hour. “No amount of safeguards will prevent us from mistakes and abuse and coercion, that’s my belief.”

She went on: ‘The problem is, actually, a lot of disabled people do suffer. But what they suffer from are the barriers and the obstacles, the fact they have to fight for support, the fact there isn’t social care, the fact of attitudes, the fact of lack of access to so many things. You know, we do suffer. So don’t then make it legal to end that suffering through assisted suicide, that’s the fear.”

In creating the documentary, Carr visited Dr. Ellen Wiebe, a Canadian physician who has said that ending lives is her “most rewarding work.” As Carr visited the room where many of Wiebe’s patients are killed, she called the experience “chilling.” She also reflected on the slippery slope experienced in Canada, which has seen assisted death laws continually expanded since it was first legalized in 2016, calling the prospect that disabled people like herself will be pressured into assisted suicide “terrifying.”

READ: Assisted suicide is ‘very scary to disabled people’ in UK, says disability rights activist

Carr has also addressed how many people later regret wishing to die, describing it as something she herself has experienced. Speaking to Big Issue, she detailed how her mother found a diary from when Carr was just 12 years old, finding an entry in which Carr said she wanted to die because of her disability. 

“Now, I knew I was miserable but to say I’d rather be dead? It hurts me to hear that my younger self didn’t see a future,” she said. “I would love to tell her you’ll fall in love, have mates, travel the world and do a job people can only dream of. She wouldn’t have believed any of it.”

Multiple studies have revealed that people seek assisted suicide because they are depressed, hopeless, have no support, and are afraid of being a burden. These feelings often pass when the person is given the help and support they need. In advocating for the disabled, Carr is an important voice in showing that assisted suicide isn’t the answer — better care and a respect for the dignity of all people is. 

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