Human Exceptionalism

Booth Gardner’s Disingenuous Fundraising Letter for Assisted Suicide

Yes, I know that political fund raising letters are well known for hyperbole and stretching the truth. And Booth Gardner’s 4-page letter (no link available) to raise money for “I-1000” the assisted suicide initiative, is of a kind. Space doesn’t permit a full deconstruction, but here is just a sampling of the manure Gardner shovels: He writes:

When we or a loved one are experiencing unbearable suffering–past the point where there is hope for recovery–there is a grace inside our humanity that is capable of saying, “It’s time.”

Well, yes. A time comes to allow nature to take its course. But the idea that assisted suicide is about “unbearable suffering” just isn’t true. Even the useless annual report from Oregon makes it very clear that most people asking for a lethal prescription are not in unbearable suffering. Indeed, a recent medical journal article–ignored as I knew it would be by the press–found that some Oregon patients weren’t even experiencing significant symptoms when receiving assisted suicide.

Gardner continues:

Opponents of the right are vehement and determined. Their reasons range from well-meaning to appallingly invasive. In their zeal, they distort the truth, raise false alarm, and denigrate our souls with their fear.

Far be it from me to “denigrate” anyone’s soul, but opponents are not nearly exclusively of the “right.” Indeed, disability rights activists are the most effective opponents of legalizing assisted suicide and they are overwhelmingly people of the Left. Medical professionals are also opponents, and most of them are not of the “right” either. Indeed, a recent book I reviewed by the liberal public intellectual Robert P. Jones, demonstrated convincingly that legalizing assisted suicide is decidedly illiberal.

Gardner references living wills and states:

A Living Will does not, however, address the right to make a choice about ending our lives when we are terminally ill and in unbearable pain or anguish.

Of course, there is nothing in I-1000 requiring that a suicidal patient be “in unbearable pain and anguish.”

Then, he gets to the wearyingly predictable, focus group tested, word engineering:

Death with dignity is not suicide. Nor is it assisted suicide, or physician-assisted suicide. By its very nature, suicide is the irrational act of a person choosing to end their life before it’s time. For the terminally ill, death is already a reality…A Death with Dignity law simply enables a patient with less than six months left to live to make a rational decision to end unbearable suffering.

That’s all nonsense, of course. Even Derek Humphry, founder of the Hemlock Society, acknowledges that, well, assisted suicide is assisted suicide. Moreover, there are many people who suffer far more profoundly, and for longer, than people with a terminal illness. Which, of course, is why we now see advocacy for assisted suicide for the mentally ill.

But never mind facts. Gardner, like most demagogic campaigners, prefers to conger Bogey men to pass his agenda. It’s going to be a long campaign.