Human Exceptionalism

Life and dignity with Wesley J. Smith.

“Suicide Counsellors” Show Futility of Legalization


Jack Kevorkian was the ground breaker in modern times: A man made world famous helping people with disabilities, the terminally ill, and the existentially suffering kill themselves. For that, he now makes $50,000 a speech. In Australia, Philip Nitschke has counseled the suicides of people who were not close to being terminally ill, and even argued it should be available to "troubled teens." Ditto the suicide clinics in Switzerland, where the Supreme Court recently granted a constitutional right to assisted suicide for the mentally ill.

In Germany, another one of these death fanatics has apparently set up shop. The government has obtain an injunction. From the story:
German police have issued a temporary restraining order against controversial euthanasia advocate Roger Kusch, prohibiting him from aiding any more people who want to end their own lives. The former Hamburg justice minister has helped at least five people to take their lives since June. Only one of those five was very seriously ill.
One answer suggested as a response to this morbid business is to legalize assisted suicide for the terminally ill. That would be folly, since it would accede to the premise that killing is an acceptable answer to human suffering. Once that door is opened, the rest will eventually enter the way water flows through the breach in a dam.

Moreover, legalization would not put these vultures out of business. They would merely say they have to help the people that the "unduly restrictive" law doesn't permit to end their suffering. And it would be harder to stop them then because we will have said that at least in some circumstances, it is right to help kill.

This is just common sense. Look at the Netherlands where some doctors with suicidal patients who might not qualify for euthanasia under the law refer patients to an online site that teaches them how to commit "autoeuthanasia," e.g., the latest euphemism for suicide.

Assisted suicide is a radical change in ethics that will prove, over the long run, impossible to meaningfully restrain once the basic premise becomes popularly accepted. And that is the argument we should be having. The very narrow debate in which we are now engaged to limiting assisted suicide to the terminally ill not only doesn't comport with the evidence of the consequences of assisted suicide consciousness, it is willful self delusion.


Sign up for free NRO e-mails today:

Subscribe to National Review