The fifth working session of the Open-ended Working Group on Ageing convened this week at the United Nations. Scott Fischbach, Executive Director of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life Global Outreach (MCCL GO), spoke today at the session about the importance of protecting the rights of older persons.
“The number of older persons in society is increasing, the cost associated with aging is increasing, and the medical advances enabling longer life expectancy are increasing,” Fischbach stated. “These facts point to the need to improve protection of the rights of the elderly if we are going to build a world in which all human beings are respected and protected by law.”
Twelve years ago, the United Nations adopted the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing. It included a call to ensure “the full enjoyment of all human rights” of older persons and to combat “all forms of discrimination.”
“The denial of medical treatment, withdrawal of nutrition and hydration, and active and passive euthanasia are direct violations of every human being’s right to life,” Fischbach explained. “Euthanasia does not address physical and mental diseases that can be treated with today’s medical advancements.”
MCCL GO also noted that the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities requires that we must “prevent discriminatory denial of health care or health services or food and fluids on the basis of disability.” Such language should be used to protect those at the end of life as well.
“Our older people are amazing resources of knowledge and understanding, history and compassion—they are human beings and have human rights that require protection,” Fischbach concluded. “The first of these rights is life itself.”