Human Exceptionalism

Battin Assisted Suicide Report Demonstrates the Vapidity of “Scientific Studies”

The “scientific study” has become the modern-day equivalent to Biblical scripture: They can be made to support whatever result the “studier” desires.

Case in point: A just released study by Margarette P. Battin of the University of Utah, claiming that there is no assisted suicide “slippery slope.” Unmentioned (of course) in the stories about the study (such as this one on Scientific American.com) is that Battin has been an ardent euthanasia and assisted suicide legalization activist for more than 25 years, a woman so committed to the cause that she has long supported permitting assisted suicide for categories of people way beyond the terminally ill. Indeed, as reported in Rita Marker’s seminal book Deadly Compassion, Battin was published in the Hemlock Quarterly all the way back in 1982 promoting what has since come to be called “rational suicide.”

In 1985, she spoke at the Hemlock Society annual conference, where in addition to promoting assisted suicide and euthanasia, she suggested such deaths would be a splendid way to save money. From Marker’s account (page 150):

Those least capable of withstanding the pressure to request euthanasia or commit suicide would be people who have been the least self-determining throughout their lives, Battin suggested. She noted that particularly vulnerable would be a woman who has lived for her family and has always been concerned about the needs and comfort of others. There will be an interest in avoiding the burdens of care and large bills,” she pointed out. “We may wish to comply with this interest.”

This advocacy has continued steadily for more than 25 years. As I noted in Forced Exit: Euthanasia, Assisted Suicide, and the New Duty to Die (page190), Battin even supports the so-called “duty to die.” I wrote :

Other bioethicists have also weighed in on establishing a duty to die. University of Utah philosopher Margaret P. Battin, for example, has argued that global egalitarianism may one day require people in richer countries to forgo expensive life-sustaining treatment or even commit suicide to promote “the interests of justice in health care,” which would be “reflected in more nearly equal health prospects and life expectancies around the globe. Not surprisingly, Battins is an enthusiast for legalizing euthanasia.

Besides her clear bias, Battin’s so-called study acknowledges that elderly, disabled, and other non terminally ill people are indeed being euthanized in the Netherlands, including killings of patients who did not ask to be euthanized. If that isn’t the slippery slope, what is?

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

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