The Corner

Health Care

Pushing Assisted Suicide for Baby Boomers

(Shaun Best/Reuters )

We can always count on the New York Times to promote destructive public policies and social agendas. In the latest example, the “paper of record” published a piece that pushes assisted suicide as a solution to the significant challenges we will face from Baby Boomers getting old.

First, Susan Jacoby recounts the familiar costs and predicted problems associated with increasing numbers of elderly people. But when the time comes to suggest solutions, the piece is very weak. Her inner feminist rails at “A Place for Mom” ads because it implies women will be taking care of “dad.” That just will not do. She also suggests that the elderly who want to work be accommodated by companies and policies to stay productive. A-okay with me.

Then, she gets to the true point of her piece; a call to “create a better reality for the old and their families” by opening the door to legally killing the old birds. From, “We’re Getting Old, but We’re Not Doing Anything About It:”

A healthier attitude toward aging also means examining moral issues. Physician-assisted suicide, for example, is the source of a fierce ethical debate that matters greatly to anyone who can imagine growing old. Questions about the end of life, like those about abortion, should be posed in every national forum.

How would allowing old people to be assisted in suicide promote “a healthier attitude toward aging?” To the contrary, it would denigrate the elderly by transforming them into a killable caste when they need care.

Back to Jacoby:

According to a Gallup poll conducted last year, 72 percent of Americans agree that doctors should be allowed to help end a patient’s life painlessly if there is no hope of a cure and the medical assistance is requested by patients and their families. The support drops to 65 percent if the phrase “doctor-assisted suicide” is used instead of “end a patient’s life” — yet another case of the American preference for euphemism.

Jacoby’s piece is a thinly veiled call for the normalization of elder suicide, perhaps even the creation of a societal expectation that the dependent old “choose” to die in order not to “burden” their families and society. And be very clear: “No hope for cure,” is far broader than a diagnosis of imminent death from a terminal illness — and indeed, could include many common conditions of old age, from early Alzheimer’s, to speech difficulties caused by stroke, to a broken hip leading to morbidity, to loss of vision or hearing.

As for family participation in the decision to die, has Jacoby never heard of the elder abuse crisis? That point aside, no law in the world requires that families request euthanasia along with the patient. Indeed, families are kept in the dark because of privacy issues, and even when they learn of the death plans, they are powerless to stop it — as we saw in a case in Canada in which family members begged doctors not to kill their depressed loved one, to no avail.

Jacoby’s column — published in the most influential op-ed page in the world — reveals how legalized assisted could become a means of scouring society of dependent and expensive-to-care-for elderly, described by Jacoby as those who “live long but not necessarily healthy lives.” Kind of gives the ageist meme, “#OKBoomer,” a whole new meaning, doesn’t it?

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