NO to Medically Assisted Suicide

by Joan Cavanagh, Second Thoughts Connecticut

“An Act Providing a Medical Option of Compassionate Aid in Dying for Terminally Ill Adults,” Proposed Bill No. 668, has been referred to the Judiciary Committee for the spring 2015 Connecticut state legislative session. It is being sponsored and promoted by some of our most progressive state legislators, including Gary Holder Winfield, Roland Lemar and Toni Walker.

It is imperative that we as their constituents and supporters on many other initiatives contact them immediately to demand that they withdraw their support for this legislation and work to defeat it.
Last month, Elaine Kolb clearly explained why the disability rights community is so opposed to this legislation. She described her painful fight for the necessary treatment and services to sustain her partner’s life as long as possible: “Patti Deak lived and died with dignity, with multiple disabilities, using a power wheelchair, hospital bed, Hoyer lift, hearing aids, and a ventilator… With cut-backs in so many essential services, the message behind assisted suicide is that death is cost-effective. For those of us in danger of being denied what we need to live, ‘Compassion and Choice’ feels more like ‘Contempt and Coercion’” (emphasis added).

I experienced such contempt and coercion while fighting for treatment for my elderly mother, Catherine (1922-2012), who suffered from vascular dementia and a severe heart condition. As her health care advocate, I was continually and repeatedly harassed, bullied and threatened by various health care professionals at Yale-New Haven Hospital to “let her die.” As a Medicare/Medicaid patient, she was costing them too much and her life was not valued. You can read the details of this experience at http://www.nhregister.com/opinion/20140304/forum-aid-in-dying-bill-neither-compassionate-nor-wise.
All this occurred in a state where medically assisted suicide is not yet legal. Whatever its language, such a bill cannot be tweaked or improved to be made safe or unthreatening to those of us who are physically, mentally and/or emotionally vulnerable. The potential for coercion and abuse, both by a health care system increasingly concerned with profit and, in some cases, by family and friends who are tired of the “burden” of care, is simply too great.

Joan Cavanagh is a member of Second Thoughts Connecticut and a long time peace and justice activist.

Gathering Mourns Leelah Alcorn’s Suicide

by Maya Leonardo, Justice for Jane

New Haven activists joined thousands of others across the country to mourn Leelah Alcorn on January 10. In the wake of the transgender 17-year-old’s suicide, activists have mobilized across the country to stand for trans rights and an end to so-called ‘conversion therapy.’ While trans suicides are not uncommon, the visibility of Leelah’s was widespread, including a suicide note widely reposted.
New Haven has become a hotbed of trans activism, with the Justice for Jane campaign bringing together activists from all over Southern Connecticut. Jane is a 17-year-old trans girl being held in DCF custody at a men’s facility in Middletown. Just like Leelah was, she is being denied the right to express her gender.

Attendees at the vigil and rally made promises to Leelah to help fix society. One of the most poignant came from IV, a Justice for Jane organizer.

“I want to make a promise that I will keep fighting for our community, no matter how hard the struggle gets. Jane is 17 just like you, Leelah. I promise to fight to make sure she lives the life you deserved, and to fight for all young people who are being abused like you and Jane. We will keep the struggle alive for you, and we will tear down the system that took your life, keeps our community down and discourages us from living.”

Reading Series Starts in New Haven

by Bennett Lovett-Graff, Publisher, New Haven Review

The Young Men’s Institute Library is proud to host the Listen Here Short Story reading series. Join us for a night of classic short stories selected by the staff of the New Haven Review and read by cast members of the New Haven Theater Company. Reading starts at 7 p.m., with a talk back at 8 p.m. that explores the background, meaning, and dramatic interpretation of that night’s stories. Also, freshly baked cookies–a different batch at each reading–and tea are available. $5 suggested admission, but no obligations!

Next reading’s theme: “Where Ya Going?” Our stories include “The Swimmer” by John Cheever and “Along the Scenic Route” by Harlan Ellison. Join us Thursday, February 12, 7 p.m. at Young Men’s Institute Library, 847 Chapel St., New Haven. Save these others dates as well for future readings, same place, same time, different stories, different actors reading: March 11, April 9, and May 13.  (Please note that the Institute Library is one flight up and, most unfortunately, not wheelchair accessible.) For more information, visit us at www.institutelibrary.org.

News from the CT Roundtable on Climate and Jobs

by John Humphries, Convener/Organizer

The CT Roundtable on Climate and Jobs is launching their public campaign to pass legislation capping the monthly fixed charges for residential and small business electricity customers. There is a new Facebook page and website to share information and build a broad-based coalition. Like them on Facebook!

Use your social media networks to share information about the campaign with groups all across the state. We posted this meme to the Facebook page as our first public outreach, and our following is already starting to grow.

CTEnergyRelief.org is the new webpage that will serve as a source of more detailed information about the campaign and legislation. It already provides good educational materials to help you understand the details about fixed charges. Use #CTEnergyRelief as the hashtag when sharing info about the campaign via Twitter.

Legislative handout – We have already gathered 16 organizational endorsements for the legislative handout developed in partnership with Acadia Center. We will continue to update the handout, as we receive additional endorsements, so please encourage your group to sign on by contacting me directly. Download the handout: bit.ly/ctenergyrelief-handout

Like us on Facebook to get all our updates and action alerts. We anticipate a public hearing in the Energy and Technology Committee in the coming weeks, and there will be many opportunities to contact your legislators at key points during the session. Donate online via IREJN (our fiscal sponsor); include “Roundtable” in the comment box. Or mail a check, payable to IREJN, with Roundtable on thememo line to PO Box 270147, West Hartford, CT 06127.

In faith and solidarity, John Humphries, Convener/ Organizer, john.humphries1664@gmail.com
The CT Roundtable on Climate and Jobs is a partnership between the Interreligious Eco-Justice Network and the AFL-CIO that seeks to strengthen collaboration among Connecticut’s labor, environmental, and religious groups in advocating for public policies that address urgent concerns about climate change while creating good-paying jobs right here in our state.

Kathy Kelly in Jail for Protest against Drones

PeaceAction.org

On Friday, January 23, Kathy Kelly, co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, a campaign to end U.S. military and economic warfare, began her three-month jail sentence in federal prison for a protest against drones at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri. The arrest followed an attempt by herself and Georgia Walker to deliver a loaf of bread and a letter to the commander of Whiteman Air Force base, asking him to stop his troops from piloting lethal drone flights over Afghanistan from within the base.

From 1996-2003, Voices activists formed 70 delegations that openly defied economic sanctions by bringing medicines to children and families in Iraq. Kathy and her companions lived in Baghdad throughout the 2003 “Shock and Awe” bombing. They have also lived alongside people during warfare in Gaza, Lebanon, Bosnia and Nicaragua.

This will be her fourth time in a federal prison. Kelly has been involved in numerous nonviolent campaigns to end war, some of which have involved lengthy imprisonment.

If you would like to reach out to Kathy in the next 3 months I’m sure she would welcome the contact. If you feel inclined to send something, she loves novels, especially novels written by people from other countries.

Kathy Kelly 04971-045
FMC LEXINGTON, SATELLITE CAMP, P.O. BOX 14525
LEXINGTON, KY  40512

Western Mass. Jobs With Justice Annual Conference Feb. 28

The Western Massachusetts Jobs with Justice Educational, Organizing, & Membership Conference will be held Saturday, Feb. 28, 10 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. (includes lunch) at Trinity United Methodist Church, 361 Sumner Ave., Springfield MA.

There is no cost to attend this conference. It is fully underwritten by the grants and donations of generous supporters. You may make a donation at registration or at the conference.

Keynote Speaker: Sarita Gupta, Executive Director, Jobs with Justice. Sarita is a nationally recognized expert on the economic and political issues affecting working people across all industries, particularly low-wage workers. She is widely recognized as a key leader and strategist in the progressive movement.

Tabling Opportunity for Progressive Organizations: Sliding scale donation requested: $10 to $50. Set up 8-9 a.m. Send request to wmjwj@wmjwj.org.

Volunteer Opportunities: Contact wmjwj@wmjwj.org.

SCHEDULE:

9-10 a.m. Registration, Tabling, Schmoozing, Food
10-11 a.m. Welcome, Keynote, Q&A
11:10-12:40 p.m. Workshops
12:50-1:35 p.m. Lunch, Membership Meeting
1:45-3:15 p.m. Workshops
3:25-4:15 p.m. Closing Plenary ~ Out Now’s Theatre of the Oppressed ~ Announcements/Next Steps
Workshop details are in development.

For more info: Western Mass. Jobs with Justice, wmjwj@wmjwj.org

Next Deadline for Newsletter Articles: Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015

Next Deadline for Newsletter Articles: Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Please submit copy to PAR’s e-mail address: parnewhaven@hotmail.com.

No e-mail? Call Paula at (203) 562-2798 to find out how to submit your article. There is a 350 word limit.

Next Planning Meeting date is Mon., Jan. 5, at 8 p.m….all welcome…call (203) 562-2798 for location.

Subscription: $13 for 10 issues, check payable to PAR, P.O. Box 995, New Haven, CT 06504

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Let us know what your group is doing!

Write an article for February’s PAR newsletter.

(350 words or less, deadline Jan. 20)

Send articles to Parnewhaven@hotmail.com

Movement Against Police Brutality Builds in New Haven

Hundreds rally at the Amistad statue in New Haven as Emma Jones tells us, "you are perfectly capable of policing yourselves." (contributed photo)

Hundreds rally at the Amistad statue in New Haven as Emma Jones tells us, “you are perfectly capable of policing yourselves.” (contributed photo)

by Chis Garaffa, ANSWER CT (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism)

New Haven students and community members are building a renewed movement against police brutality and terror. In response to the non-indictments of the officers who killed Darren Wilson in Ferguson, MO and Eric Garner in Staten Island, NY, hundreds of people have demonstrated in the city to loudly proclaim that they have had enough of police terror and an injustice system that lets killer cops walk free.

On Dec. 5, despite rain, 400 took over the streets of downtown. On Chapel Street a 7-minute moment of silence was held for Eric Garner, the amount of time he was left handcuffed and dead on the sidewalk. The march also shut down the intersection of Church and Chapel for nearly 30 minutes, demonstrating that there cannot be business as usual while police get away with these killings.

Yale students also held a die-in on Dec. 5, where hundreds lay down on the sidewalk.

The movement against police brutality requires being on the street and organizing in our communities. Eighty people attended a community meeting on Dec. 14 to strategize how to build the fight-back movement. At the meeting, called by ANSWER, People Against Police Brutality, MALIK, Black Student Alliance at Yale (BSAY) and more, tactics on how to fight the NHPD’s “surge” were discussed. The surge is New Haven’s version of “stop and frisk,” targeting anyone deemed undesirable by the police for random searches and questioning. The meeting also addressed legislative and community efforts needed to win justice.

A new movement is being formed across the country and New Haven will be an important center of organizing and building solidarity against police brutality!

Volvieron! They Returned!

by Augusta Girard, Promoting Enduring Peace

For decades the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization (IFCO)/Pastors for Peace has been working for an alternative people-to-people foreign policy. PEP has supported the work of IFCO for many years, having given their 1993 Gandhi Peace Award to Reverend Lucius Walker, Jr., founder of IFCO, and recently having had Gail Walker, Director of IFCO, in New Haven deliver a lecture on “Why the World Needs Cuba.” Embracing this long overdue victory we will continue our support and work to end the Cuban blockade once and for all.

From IFCO:

Today, we join the Cuban people in celebrating a successful step toward new diplomatic relations between the US and Cuba!

We applaud President Obama for acting on the desire of the vast majority of people in the US – and Cuba – who want normal relations between our two countries.

 

While this is a step toward what we’ve been working for, there’s still much to be worked out and analyzed. We know that the right-wing won’t go down without a fight. Our Work Continues!

 

Although we commend President Obama’s action in releasing the remaining members of the Cuban Five and taking steps to normalize relations with Cuba, we know that there will be ‘blowback’ from the right-wing who need Cuba as an enemy.

The National Network on Cuba, which PEP has been a member of for over 20 years, released a statement in part saying:

“The recent focus on Cuba including today’s release of the Five, the upcoming Summit of the Americas, exposure of USAID’s nefarious efforts to subvert Cuban society, and the Cuban medical missions fighting Ebola, present an opportunity for all of us committed to Cuban solidarity. We must now increase the demands that all aspects of the blockade be lifted, that Cuba be removed from the list of state sponsors of terrorism, and that the Cuban right to self-determination and sovereignty be respected.”

Please call the White House or email President Obama and say “Thank You.”

Email your senators and members of Congress! Let them know you support normalization of relations and a repeal of the Helms-Burton and Torricelli legislation against Cuba.

In the News — Not Dead Yet and Second Thoughts Connecticut

by Elaine Kolb, Second Thoughts Connecticut

On Dec. 15, I submitted the following testimony to the New Jersey State Senate against a bill to legalize physician assisted suicide in that state:

My name is Elaine M. Kolb, member of Not Dead Yet and Second Thoughts Connecticut, and I am testifying against the assisted suicide bill, S382. Thirty-eight years ago, I was stabbed in the back, resulting in a spinal cord injury. Now, at 65, I am also officially old.

Sixteen years ago, at this time, my partner for eleven years, Patti Deak, was in the hospital. Weakened by chronic bronchitis, asthma, scoliosis, and a life-long neuro-muscular disease, she developed pneumonia and both of her lungs collapsed. Growing up with a disability, which relentlessly became more profound, Patti was told that she should expect to die young. She endured the insults and injuries of a culture which did not recognize her as a full citizen. Her whole life was a struggle for needed equipment, treatments and services. Remember, it was not until 1975, with the passage of the Education for All Handicapped Children’s Act, that public schools were required to even begin to attempt to include and teach children with disabilities.

Prejudice against people with disabilities of all ages continues to be extreme, sometimes deadly. Among those of us with long-term, visible disabilities, we share some terrifyingly common horror stories. Family, friends, even perfect strangers will say something like, “Oh, I could NEVER be as strong and brave as you are. If that happened to ME, I’d rather be dead.” Not a compliment. We experience insults, along with every kind of injury.

Patti Deak loved her life and our life together. So, when both lungs collapsed in December 1998, she decided that she was willing to go on a ventilator. Then we had to fight to get to pulmonary rehab at Gaylord Hospital, so she could come home. Sadly, she had further complications and went on hospice care. She died on March 10, 1999. She was forty. Patti Deak lived and died with dignity, with multiple disabilities, using a power wheelchair, hospital bed, Hoyer lift, hearing aids, and a ventilator.

When some non-disabled folks talk about “death with dignity,” they actually mean “death before disability” or “death before Depends.” With cut-backs in so many essential services, the message behind assisted suicide is that death is cost-effective. For those of us in danger of being denied what we need to live, “Compassion and Choice” feels more like “Contempt and Coercion.” We want to live with dignity and the recognition that our lives are beautiful and valuable and meaningful, just as we are.

Extend palliative care, hospice services, and end-of-life counseling. PLEASE do NOT pass assisted suicide in any form, including S382.

[NOTE: A similar bill will be presented again in the next Connecticut legislative session. Please contact your representatives to express your opposition. There will be more details in the February issue of PAR.]

Volunteers Needed for MLK Event January 18-19

by Elisabeth Kennedy, Volunteer Coordinator, Yale Peabody Museum

We need to fill volunteer spots for the Yale Peabody Museum’s 19th Annual Celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Legacy of Social and Environmental Justice event on Sunday, Jan. 18 (noon to 4 p.m.) and Monday, Jan. 19 (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.). We also could use people to help us set up on Saturday, Jan. 17.

mlkIf it’s easier for you, feel free to leave a message telling me “Sunday or Monday” and “morning or afternoon or even all day” and I will find a spot for you. Please let me know as soon as possible where you can help out. We really do need ‘all hands on deck’ for this extensive two-day event – one of the biggest of the year for the museum. So let me know what you would like to help with! Remember, we are happy to have you to work full days or on Sunday and/or Monday or to set up on Saturday.

Have a wonderful holiday and we look forward to hearing from you and definitely seeing you in January!
With best wishes for 2015, Elisabeth, (203) 432-3731, peabody.volunteers@yale.edu.

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