10 – Right to life


Learning difficulty/disabilities

People with learning disabilities die, on average, 16 years sooner than people without learning disabilities[1], are twice as likely to die from avoidable deaths and three times more likely to die from a cause of death that could be prevented by good quality health care[2]. A DPO of people with learning disability (‘the Comet Group’) has stressed that entitlement to annual health checks is crucial in their view to realising their right to health.

Assisted suicide

There have been attempts to weaken the legal protection of the right to life of disabled people in England and Wales though making assisted suicide lawful in certain circumstances.[3] The potential abuse of assisted suicide undermines the right to life of disabled people, the more so given the enduring negative attitudes towards them. (See article 8 above.)

[1]Emerson E, Madden R, Robertson J, Graham H, Hatton C, Llewellyn G. (2009) Intellectual and Physical Disability, Social Mobility, Social Inclusion & Health: Background paper for the Marmot Review. Lancaster: Centre for Disability Research.

[2] Heslop, P. (2014) Improving Health and Lives: Confidential Inquiry into premature deaths of people with learning disabilities. Bristol: Norah Fry Centre.

[3] Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill Bill [HL24] 2006 and Assisted Dying Bill [HL] 2013.