The Corner

New York Court Rules Suicide Is ‘Suicide’

Assisted suicide advocates pretend that suicide committed due to the fears created by a diagnosis of terminal illness — sometimes wrong, by the way — isn’t really “suicide.”

They sue, claiming that laws against assisted suicide shouldn’t apply because when poisonous pills are prescribed by a doctor to be used in such cases to end life, it is really “aid in dying.”

Bunk. When a movement has to hide its agenda behind gooey euphemisms, there is something wrong with the agenda.

They also claim that committing suicide is the same as refusing life-sustaining medical treatment, an argument rejected 9-0 by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1997.

With one exception in New Mexico, most courts are not (yet) so in the post modernist tank that they don’t buy the sophistry. The latest example comes from the Bible Belt court in New York. From Myers v. Schneiderman:

The word “suicide” has a straightforward meaning and a dictionary is hardly necessary to construe the thrust of Penal Law sections 120.30 and 125.15. It is traditionally defined as “the act or instance of taking one’s own life voluntarily and intentionally,” especially “by a person of years of discretion and of sound mind” (Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary [11th ed 2003]).

Whatever label one puts on the act that plaintiffs are asking us to permit, it unquestionably fits that literal description, since there is a direct causative link between the medication proposed to be administered by plaintiff physicians and their patients’ demise…

In light of the plain meaning of the term suicide, we hold, as a matter of statutory construction, that Penal Law sections 120.30 and 125.15 prohibit aid-in-dying.

The court also found that a right to refuse treatment isn’t the same thing as a right to make oneself dead by affirmative action (citations omitted):

Nevertheless, these cases all involved a patient’s right to refuse medical treatment, and are rooted in the same concepts that give rise to a cause of action for medical malpractice based on the lack of informed consent [“every person of adult years and sound mind has a right to determine what should be done with his own body; and a surgeon who performs an operation without his patient’s consent commits an assault, for which he is liable in damages,’” quoting Schloendorff v Society of N.Y. Hosp.

Thus, plaintiffs have a heavy burden of persuasion in arguing that the same principles apply to the affirmative act of taking one’s own life.

Plaintiffs have failed to overcome this burden.

Clarity. A law against assisted suicide applies to all suicides, not just those some people think are unjustified or “irrational.”

Wouldn’t it be nice if the debate about whether to legalize assisted suicide did not get caught up in the gobbledygook shoveled by the euthanasia word engineers?

That would require the media to apply the proper, accurate, and descriptive terms regarding this debate as the court did.

But that would compel them to be journalists instead of advocates. And there are some places that reporters today just will not go.

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