The Corner

Catastrophe: Jerry Brown Signs Assisted Suicide into Law

Jerry Brown has signed assisted suicide into law.

In his short letter, he explained why he signed this radical shift in the ethics of medicine and health-care policy into law — because in the end, it was all about him.

Brown worries about what he would do “if dying in prolonged and excruciating pain,” and says he would find “comfort” in knowing the option of assisted suicide was available. That others will be hurt by this doesn’t matter a whit.

Besides, that’s a false premise — as almost no assisted suicides are committed because of pain.

But I have long ago learned that this issue is not about facts and reason, but emotion.

And he damns hospice and palliative care with nary a mention. 

This is a catastrophe of known and unknown dimensions.

  • People will die sooner than they would have — and indeed, some may die when they would have lived.
  • Our culture has taken a huge leap into the death-culture abyss.
  • Health care will be affected, given that assisted suicide is a splendid method of cost containment.
  • Families will feel pressured to sanction their loved ones’ suicides.
  • People with serious health issues and disabilities will be seen as having less intrinsic value than those who will receive suicide prevention instead of facilitation.

It is now up to doctors and pharmacists to refuse cooperation with the law. Doctors should declare themselves “assisted-suicide-free zones,” and pharmacists should refuse to fill prescriptions intended to kill.

More than 10 percent of the country now live in states with legal assisted suicide. If the society accepts the premise that killing is an acceptable answer to human suffering, we will go the way of Belgium and Netherlands.

I am reminded — again — of the quote from Canadian journalist Andrew Coyne, in the face of the popularity in his country of a man who killed his twelve-year-old daughter because she had cerebral palsy. 

“A society that believes in nothing can offer no argument even against death. A culture that has lost its faith in life cannot comprehend why it should be endured.”


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