Disabled campaigners fighting to ward off the threat of legalised assisted suicide have been forced to launch a fundraising appeal to try to counteract the huge financial resources of their opponents.
Not Dead Yet UK – the campaigning network of disabled people opposed to legalisation – is run by volunteers, and has almost no funding to continue its battle.
The network decided to launch an urgent appeal for funds following last week’s report from The Commission on Assisted Dying, which was bankrolled by euthanasia supporters and set up by the pro-assisted suicide charity Dignity in Dying.
The commission’s work was funded by two pro-euthanasia multi-millionaires, the author Terry Pratchett, who has Alzheimer’s disease, and Bernard Lewis, founder of the retail chain River Island.
The thinktank Demos, which hosted the year-long commission, declined to say how much it had cost, and told Disability News Service that it was “not allowed to give out details of the cost of projects”.
Responding to reports that it had cost £500,000, a Demos spokeswoman said: “I cannot verify that. I would be very wary of using that.”
Dr Kevin Fitzpatrick, the former Disability Rights Commission’s commissioner with responsibility for Wales, and a spokesman for Not Dead Yet UK, said the network wanted to build a “grassroots response” to the commission’s proposals and “find a way to support the work that we are doing”.
He said: “We are doing this with a heavy heart and we really do not want anybody who cannot afford it to give anything at all. For those people, we would just be happy with their name and support.”
He said Not Dead Yet UK was hoping for a large number of people to sign up to giving as little as £2 a month to support its work, through its website.
He said: “In order for the public to be informed it has to hear both sides of the story equally.
“The problem is that because they have all the resources, their side is being promoted much more highly than ours.”
12 January 2012