Euthanasia and Disability Rights

Society is fixated with creating norms and making accommodations catered to the abilities of the average individual. Such behavior translates to a misunderstanding of the specialized needs of those who possess traits atypical to the common trend. Because of the lack of information regarding the particular characteristics of particular disabilities possessed by particular individuals, society inadvertently places burdens on this subject minority.

The disabled and physically incapable are thus subjected under- or overprotection trampling on basic rights of the person. The increasing instance of under-protection of disabled individuals has led to enhanced movement against harmful treatment. On the other hand, the increased number of individuals speaking up against overprotection of disabled individuals has caused an awareness regarding the experience of such persons in society. Overprotection results largely from a misplaced generalization of the effects of particular disabilities.

Because society in general undermines the capacities to act and perform of disabled individuals they are often maltreated and their inherently held rights trampled on. Not only this but socially reinforced expectations and beliefs often prevent the carrying out of the goals and wishes of the physically disabled. Of particular interest herein will be the treatment of individuals relying on life-support mechanisms and the experience of disabled persons still capable of adaptive functioning in social situations.

The first group will be discussed in relation with euthanasia. Arguments will be presented reflecting the need to understand the basis of life in order to accurately assess the extent of the rights of those silenced by their physical incapacity. It will be tackled whether or not the rights of these individuals are capable of estimation or whether or not the wishes of their guardians should hold priority in decision making regarding continuation or discontinuation of life-support.

The second group of persons will be discussed in relation with the social constructs disallowing the regular functioning of disabled individuals. The discussion will tackle both the human and civil rights perspectives to such a discourse. Herein lies the problem of underestimation of capabilities. This problem requires attention as many disabled individuals are found to be capable of regular social functioning but are prevented from social activities because of built-in biases against the extent of capacity of disabled persons.