Human Exceptionalism

Debbie Purdy Dies: Case Echoed I Accuse!

Debbie Purdy, who won a landmark legal case in the United Kingdom requiring the public prosecutor to issue guidelines when assisted suicide would be prosecuted, has died in hospice after refusing to eat. She was 51.

Purdy’s case thrust the legalization of assisted suicide onto the front burner in the UK in 2009, where it remains today.  Ironically, even though she wasn’t terminally ill at the time–and died now because she stopped eating–UK assisted suicide promoters continue to pretend that legalization is about terminal illness.  

Considering Purdy’s case–and the support she received for the right to assisted suicide–it clearly is not. Any such limitation is only the proverbial foot in the door.

I am reminded of the 1941 German pro-euthanasia propaganda movie Ich Klage An! (I Accuse!).  As in the Purdy case, the plot involved a woman who contracts progressive MS.  As she loses abilities, she wants to die. Her physician husband eventually assists her suicide and is arrested. The movie ends with the character looking into the camera, as if the audience were the judges, declaring:

No!  Now, I accuse!  I accuse the law which hinders doctors and judges in their task of helping people.  I confess . . . I have delivered my wife from her sufferings, following her wishes.  My life and the lives of all people who will suffer the same fate as my wife, depends on your verdict.  Now, pass your verdict.

The answer the movie-makers wanted was to validate the husband’s act.  In essence, that is what the Purdy case was also about.

If you agree that the husband acted properly in I Accuse, stop pretending assisted suicide is about terminal illness and admit it is much more about disability–which is why the disability rights movement remains so opposed as they are the primary targets.  It is about allowing killing as an acceptable answer to many causes of suffering, whether terminal or chronic disease, disability, mental illness, or existential despair.  

Indeed, as we have seen in Switzerland, Netherlands, and Belgium, once the fundamental premise us accepted, the sheer force of logic leads to permission for virtual death-on-demand.

Debbie Purdy looked at society and said, “I accuse!”  What is your verdict?

Mine is to never legalize. Ever.

Most Popular

History

Thanksgiving Is Not a Lie

We live in a time of heedless iconoclasm, and so one of the country’s oldest traditions is under assault. Thanksgiving is increasingly portrayed as, at best, based on falsehoods and, at worst, a whitewash of genocide against Native Americans. The New York Times ran a piece the other day titled, “The ... Read More
History

Thanksgiving Is Not a Lie

We live in a time of heedless iconoclasm, and so one of the country’s oldest traditions is under assault. Thanksgiving is increasingly portrayed as, at best, based on falsehoods and, at worst, a whitewash of genocide against Native Americans. The New York Times ran a piece the other day titled, “The ... Read More
Culture

On Being Grateful

My mother always enjoyed making Thanksgiving dinner. She took a traditional Southern woman’s pride in being a good cook, following her mother’s recipes, and my family made a rare display of kindness by declining to inform her that she was a fairly dreadful cook, one whose kitchen alchemy on the electric range ... Read More
Culture

On Being Grateful

My mother always enjoyed making Thanksgiving dinner. She took a traditional Southern woman’s pride in being a good cook, following her mother’s recipes, and my family made a rare display of kindness by declining to inform her that she was a fairly dreadful cook, one whose kitchen alchemy on the electric range ... Read More
U.S.

Gratitude: What We Owe to Our Country

Editor’s Note: The following essay by National Review founder William F. Buckley comes from the first chapter of his 1990 book, Gratitude: Reflections on What We Owe to Our Country. I have always thought Anatole France’s story of the juggler to be one of enduring moral resonance. This is the arresting and ... Read More
U.S.

Gratitude: What We Owe to Our Country

Editor’s Note: The following essay by National Review founder William F. Buckley comes from the first chapter of his 1990 book, Gratitude: Reflections on What We Owe to Our Country. I have always thought Anatole France’s story of the juggler to be one of enduring moral resonance. This is the arresting and ... Read More

The Imaginary Trump

Like Andrew Jackson, Donald Trump is man who represents the age in which he lived. Whatever you may think of the age. Jackson embodied a generation of men who had risen and made their mark in a young country. He represented their desire for greater representation, even if it had costs for slaves and Indians. He ... Read More

The Imaginary Trump

Like Andrew Jackson, Donald Trump is man who represents the age in which he lived. Whatever you may think of the age. Jackson embodied a generation of men who had risen and made their mark in a young country. He represented their desire for greater representation, even if it had costs for slaves and Indians. He ... Read More