Human Exceptionalism

Consistency Please! Oregon to Ban Suicide Plastic Hoods as it Permits Doctor-Prescribed Suicide?

The irony!  The inability to connect dots!

Oregon led the country in legally approving suicide for certain vulnerable populations–and now media and legislators are upset because pro suicide groups sell suicide kits in the state, where state law permits assisted suicide for some categories of despairing people!  And yet, that fact goes completely unmentioned in the article about a terrible suicide tragedy using an Exit Bag. From the story:

The simple fact of a mail-order method of securing the means for a person to commit suicide “has a lot of visceral impact,” Gardner said. “It is so awful that somebody could make money, turning someone else’s transient despair into death. If that is happening, it’s something that needs to be changed.”  Zach Klonoski, 26, the third of the five Klonoski brothers and a law student at the University of Oregon, questions whether his brother would have taken his own life had the suicide kit not been so readily available by mail order. “I will have that question in my head for the rest of my life,” he said. “We have a family friend who was severely depressed and who crashed a car into a tree at 40 mph, trying to kill himself. He survived, he got help, and he’s now married with two kids and very, very happy.”

For the same reason, Jake Klonoski wonders whether the rental or purchase of helium tanks should require two signatures instead of just one, to make helium-hood suicide more difficult. “I can’t help think that if my brother couldn’t have gotten either the kit or the helium without anyone else’s knowledge, he would still be alive,” he said. State Sen. Prozanski, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, had never heard of the mail-order helium hood kit until asked by The Register-Guard for his opinion about its legality in Oregon. “We are going to move forward with legislation to prohibit this, with criminal penalties or sanctions for individuals involved in selling in the state or (from) out of state to residents in the state,” Prozanski said. “I have a bill being drafted right now. When you think about what is being marketed and to whom and in what state of mind, we need to make every possible effort to protect people’s lives.”

The family is very right to be upset that their despairing family member was facilitated in self destruction by strangers.

But this is not unconnected with legal assisted suicide in the state–even though the story is written as if these cases arise in a vacuum.   Studies have shown that many terminally ill people who wanted to kill themselves, were later very happy that they didn’t.  So the idea of “transient despair” should apply generally.  Nor, should people whose despair is not transient be any less protected against suicide–whether sold in a kit or prescribed by doctors.

The pro suicide movement is cold and calculating, even as it hides its true core behind teary-eyed assurances of compassion.  One wing pushes assisted suicide legalization for the terminally ill–as another wing facilitates suicide on demand via exit bags.  (Compassion and Choices is the first wing, and Final Exit Network, the second.) I don’t understand how the reporter could write a long and detailed story and miss the obvious about suicide in Oregon.  But that’s how media work these days.

So let me get to the point: How can a state–or media, since the Register Guard supports assisted suicide–say that suicide is great for one group but bad for another? At best, that is a mixed message that suffering and despairing people often cannot comprehend.  And by that mixed message, the state promotes suicide as a proper way to avoid suffering generally–even if that is not the intent.

If Oregon is serious about preventing assisted suicides–it should outlaw all of them–not just some.

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

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