New UN Convention Forbids Withdrawal of Food or Fluids from Disabled like Terri Schiavo


By John-Henry Westen


UNITED NATIONS, December 15, 2006 ( - The newly approved United Nations "Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities" which was adopted by the General Assembly Wednesday forbids nations which sign on to it from denying "food and fluids" to disabled persons.

Article 25 of the Convention, which deals with health, directs (in sub-section f) nations to "Prevent discriminatory denial of health care or health services or food and fluids on the basis of disability."

Commenting on the development, Alex Schadenberg of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition told that "To cause death by dehydration by denying food and fluids to a person based on their disability or cognitive ability, such as Terri Schiavo, is to kill them by euthanasia."

In March 2005 Schivo died of dehydration and starvation after being intentionally denied food and fluids for 13 days.  Autopsy results revealed she could have lived at least another ten years if she had continued to receive food and fluids.

Schadenberg said the section was "the most important" of the Convention "because if it is recognized it will act by protecting people with disabilities, who are not otherwise dying, from being killed by dehydration."  Schadenberg noted that such deaths are a form of euthanasia. 

"To kill a person by dehydration is the ultimate affront to the equality and dignity of the human person who is so devalued that they are even denied the most basic necessity, food and fluid," he said.

 "Quality of life concerns can never justify euthanasia of persons with disabilities, whether by action or omission," he explained.  "These deaths are often motivated by eugenic and economic considerations and they are sold to the general public based on a philosophy of end-of-life choice."

 Concluding, Schadenberg said, "Article 25 (f) must be heeded by all governments as a way of ensuring true equality and freedom for all people with disabilities, especially the cognitively disabled."