Thursday, May 31, 2012
Shame on Dr. Phil
Most of my readers already know how I feel about pity. Not much angers me more than people who feel sorry for my children, or anyone for that matter, with disabilities. However, there is one aspect of pity that does anger me more - when people pity me or other parents BECAUSE we have children with disabilities. And Dr. Phil McGraw of the Dr. Phil show is someone who does that frequently.
Several years back, Dr. Phil did a show about a family with three children who are deafblind. The entire focus of the show was about how difficult the girls' lives were and what saints the parents were. Now Dr. Phil has gone and done it again.
On April 13th of this year, his show titled "Deadly Consequences' aired. That particular show presented the idea that parents should be able to euthanize their children who have intellectual disabilities. Here's a short synopsis of the show:
The show centered on Annette Corriveau, who has two adult children who have a progressive genetic condition called Sanfilippo syndrome. The show opened with a brief introduction of Corriveau, followed by an interview of her conducted by one of the producers. Over the course of the opening which took more than half of the segment, viewers were shown and/or told the following:
•Video of Corriveau's two children from typical childhood to recent pictures as adults with disabilities;
•Depiction of intellectual and physical disabilities developed as a result of the condition;
•Discussion of the changes in their appearance as they got older, implying that their “not normal” appearance is tragic;
•The fact that Corriveau institutionalized both children when they were young.
•Video of one of Corriveau’s visits: she reported visiting them every two months, but doesn't touch them, because they don't react to her.
The second guest in the segment was attorney Geoffrey Fieger, who defended Jack Kevorkian, the assisted suicide and euthanasia advocate who claimed to have assisted the deaths of about 130 people. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, over two-thirds of Kevorkian’s victims were people with disabilities who were not terminally ill. During this recent segment, Fieger argued that a health care guardian’s right to consent to or refuse medical treatment should be extended to include active euthanasia such as a lethal injection. He asserted that what Corriveau wants is perfectly reasonable and merciful and that existing law against this is stupid.
On May29th, thirty disability rights organizations, led by Not Dead Yet, issued a letter to Dr. Phil criticizing the April 13th segment. A portion of that letter is shown below:
"This program was a horrific assault on people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. By conveying social acceptance and approval of active euthanasia of individuals with disabilities by their family members, the segment threatens their very lives. People with disabilities are reportedly twice as likely to be abused as their nondisabled peers. It is grossly irresponsible that the Dr. Phil Show aired a segment that further promotes any form of violence against a group already subject to discrimination, ridicule and gross devaluation. The idea that people with disabilities are “better off dead” is deeply offensive and cannot be tolerated."
The organizations supporting the letter have called for a public apology for the “Deadly Consequences” segment and for equal time to to be given to individuals with intellectual disabilities and organizations advocating their equal rights.
What are your thoughts? Is that enough? Do you think Dr. Phil will respond? I'm thinking not...