The Corner

More Re the Boston Globe Votes No on Assisted Suicide

Andrew: I brought up the Catholic Church in my original post because pro assisted suicide advocates so often use anti Catholic rhetoric in advocating for assisted suicide. I also think that it is very notable that a liberal paper like the Globe would urge a no vote. Very refreshing, and demonstrates that opponents are a diverse lot.

As to your point that reasonable people can differ on the issue, no doubt: But that is often because they don’t get the full picture from the media about what can actually happen once mercy killing (whether assisted suicide or euthanasia) is accepted widely by a population. For example, Swiss suicide clinics certainly don’t limit assisted suicide to the terminally ill. Indeed, the Swiss Supreme Court declared a constitutional right to assisted suicide for the mentally ill. In the Netherlands, doctors kill some people who have not asked for euthanasia, elderly people “tired of life” are sometimes euthanized or assisted in suicide, as are the seriously depressed, and disabled and terminally ill infants under the Groningen [Infanticide] Protocol. According to two studies published in the Lancet, about 8% of all infants who die in the Netherlands are killed by doctors.

In Belgium, legalized euthanasia has now been coupled with organ harvesting. In Oregon, Barbara Wagner was refused life-extending chemotherapy under that state’s rationed Medicaid law, but told by an administrator in a letter that the plan would pay for her assisted suicide. So was Randy Stroup. These are not “slippery slope” arguments about fears for the future, but rather, facts on the ground that describe what is happening here and now.

It seems to me that the proper societal response to any desire to commit suicide is caring and loving intervention to help people find their way out of the darkness. That is equally true whether the reason for wanting to die is from a business failure, a lost love, or cancer. As the Globe editorial noted, the proper response to a desire for assisted suicide is improved care: “The seriousness with which the state is approaching Question 2 is, in itself, an indictment of the current state of end-of-life care. More than a cry for physician-assisted suicide, it’s a plea for greater dignity at the end of life. And that request, at least, should be answered.” In other words, legalizing assisted suicide would be to surrender to the very underlying fears and causes that drive the agenda.

Wesley J. Smith — Wesley J. Smith is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism.

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