Split in Society for Disability Studies Over Oregon Assisted Suicide Case
Thanks to the lovely and talented Margo Schlanger for tipping me off to this!
The U.S. Supreme Court today will hear arguments about a federal challenge to an Oregon measure that allows physician assisted suicide in certain cases.
The case has divided many medical ethicists — and also scholars in the growing field of disability studies. In May, the Society for Disability Studies joined 11 disability rights groups in submitting a brief to the Supreme Court opposing Oregon’s system as one that had the potential to devalue and damage the lives of people with disabilities. But while the press release announcing the brief proudly includes the Society for Disability Studies, the brief itself no longer does so.
That’s because the society found itself facing criticism from many of its members, some of whom thought the Oregon policy was not as bad as others argued. But beyond the specifics of the Oregon case, some professors argued that the scholarly society had no business taking a stand on an issue like this on which there was no scholarly consensus, that the society hadn’t followed proper procedures to take such a stand, and that a form of political correctness made it hard for professors to speak out in opposition to the brief or to stands taken by some prominent disability rights groups, such as Not Dead Yet, which organized the brief in question.