Description: Haben Girma, a Black woman wearing a red dress and dark blazer, sits in front of an orange tree, speaking.
Haben: This is about suicide. If you’re not in a place to take this in, it’s okay to stop watching.
My name is Haben and I want to share a true story. Deaf twins who were losing their eyesight were scared of becoming Deafblind. And they went to their doctor and expressed their fear of becoming Deafblind, and asked to die.The doctors agreed and gave them a lethal injection.
I can’t stop thinking about Marc and Eddie. I wish they could have been told about all the different ways Deafblind people connect and communicate, from tactile sign language, to Braille, to cane travel. But I know so many different communities don’t have access to this information.
80% of doctors struggle with ableism. I met a doctor at Harvard who told me my eyesight was too poor to read. I explained to him that I’d been reading Braille for years and he was shocked. This wasn’t just any doctor. It was an ophthalmologist at Harvard. That’s how broken our medical system is. A lot of people don’t know how to make their hospitals and medical centers accessible to disabled people. And ableism is that secret belief, or sometimes not-so-secret belief, that disabled lives are not worth living.
Some people may be thinking, but you want to be able to choose how you end your life. When the state fails to provide access to services, when insurance fails to cover important care, when doctors can’t tell you how to communicate as a Deafblind person, or how to live a rich, fulfilling life as a disabled person, then that’s not really a choice.
Marc and Eddie passed away ten years ago in Belgium. Assisted suicide was not legal in California back then, but it is now. There is too much ableism and racism for it to be an honest choice. And we’ve filed a lawsuit against the state of California to fix this very discriminatory law. There are no protections against racism and ableism,so a lot of disabled people of color are being steered toward ending their life under this law.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. We can change it. And that’s why a group of plaintiffs have filed this lawsuit. I’m one of the attorneys helping with the case, and I hope more people will also join in and help with this.
If you want to read more about the case, please follow the link that’s part of this video and add your name to the petition. We need more people helping and supporting.
If you or anyone you know is struggling, you can call or text 988.
I know this is a really difficult conversation, but if you’re in a place to help out, add your name to the petition, and then afterwards take some time for yourself to smell the orange blossoms, do the things that bring you joy! Because we need to take breaks for ourselves and recharge.