The Corner

Assisted Suicide, a ‘Civil Right’ for the Rich

Assisted suicide is an issue for the well off and empowered. My wife, the syndicated San Francisco Chronicle political columnist Debra J Saunders, attended a committee hearing on the California bill to legalize assisted suicide. She wrote a pointed column about who are the primary advocates for doctor-prescribed death. From her column:

The hearing room was filled with supporters wearing yellow Compassion & Choices T-shirts. Many talked about their determination to end their lives on their own terms. I often am struck by proponents’ — how can I put this? — affluence, assurance and sense of entitlement. SB128 is a bill designed to make suicide more available, palatable and friendly. California has world-class medical care. This bill seeks to address a “First World problem,” noted Tim Rosales from the opposition.

Rosales steered me toward Ken Barnes, a San Diego management consultant who used to be on the executive committee of the California conference of the NAACP. Barnes handily summed up SB128 supporters: They tend to be white, educated, affluent and able to navigate the health system. While they think they are “progressive,” they are as oblivious to the downside for “people of color and people who don’t know how to advocate for themselves.” They’re like white guys who don’t understand why black men are leery of police.

To that point: Ann Getty hosts Compassion & Choices fundraisers. U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein of Pacific Heights supports SB128. The bill’s sponsors, Democratic state Sens. Bill Monning and Lois Wolk, hail from Carmel and Davis, with co-sponsors from Santa Barbara and San Francisco.

Debra also nails some of the propaganda messaging of assisted-suicide advocacy:

Surely [state Senator Bob] Hertzberg and the other proponents know that the state cannot stop people from committing suicide. More than 40,000 sad, desperate Americans do it every year.

So Hertzberg must see it as a fit role for government to encourage suicide and change the face of medicine by giving doctors a license to prescribe intentionally lethal overdoses…

Gov. Jerry Brown spent time with Mother Teresa in Calcutta. His office won’t say if he’ll sign or veto an assisted-suicide bill. He knows what he should do. True compassion engenders striving to cure illness, relieve pain and offer warmth to those who are suffering. That is dignity.

The more people learn about assisted suicide, the less they like it. Debra’s column is must-reading for everyone who wants a full understanding of this crucial moral issue.  

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