The Corner

Culture

Opening Door to Assisted Suicide Organ Donors

My very first anti-assisted suicide column in 1993 warned that it would lead to conjoining organ donation with euthanasia “as a plumb to society.”

That is happening now in Netherlands and Belgium–including of people with mental illnesses, no less.

Now–very alarmingly–the United Network for Organ Sharing seems to be opening the door to letting those planning to commit assisted suicide become living organ donors before taking the lethal pills. From its proposed changes to the ethics of living organ donation to allow the terminally ill to participate:

We recommends that individuals with certain fatal diseases be 230 allowed to donate their organs prior to an assisted suicide, but only in those U.S. states where physician 231 assisted suicide is legal and individuals meet the criteria for physician assisted suicide. 

No! People planning assisted suicide should receive suicide prevention interventions, not implied validation or encouragement to do the lethal deed.

Moreover, there should never be an inducement for the sick and despairing to kill themselves, which this proposal would do if implimented. (And what if the person changed their mind? Indeed, what if they didn’t die as expected?)

If we let the sick suicidal do this, why not eventually also the healthy suicidal? Some mental health professionals already assert that a sustained “rational” suicidal desire is akin to a terminal illness.

The paper takes no position on donation after assisted suicide as “outside the scope of this paper.” Trust me, do this, and the latter will soon follow.

Bottom line: We should not look at the suicidal as natural resources. We should never send the insidious message to suicidal people–based on whatever cause–that the deaths can have greater value than their continued lives.

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