I have long maintained that assisted suicide legalization is not intended to be permanently limited to the “terminally ill for whom nothing else can be done to alleviate suffering,” (which is, in itself, a false premise). After all, as we have seen in the Netherlands and Switzerland, when “choice” is coupled with killing as an acceptable answer to human suffering, the actual health status of the person who wants to die is ultimately of little concern. (See my testimony last year in front of the California State Senate Judiciary Committee.)
Former Washington Governor Booth Gardner has, perhaps inadvertently, validated my point in this article in the Seattle PI. Gardner is disabled by Parkinson’s disease, which has motivated him to promote the legalization of assisted suicide in a planned voter referendum next year. This matter is discussed in the paper, along with Oregon and the famous and meaningless propaganda statistics that are published each year, which the reporter swallows with not a hint of skepticism.
Be that as it may, Gardner–like most assisted suicide advocates–does not really want to limit the “option” of assisted suicide to the terminally ill. But, for the sake of political expediency, he is willing to–for now. From the story:
There, 292 residents in the last 10 years have used Oregon’s Death With Dignity Act to end their lives. Each had to be diagnosed as terminally ill by two physicians and evaluated to ensure that the wish to die was not merely manifestations of depression. Most importantly, all had to administer the lethal dose themselves.
Too many hurdles for Gardner’s taste–not to mention the fact that the rules would disqualify him, since Parkinson’s, while debilitating, is not considered fatal. In his ideal world, the patriarch would be able to gather his family–two children, eight grandchildren and his first ex-wife (there are two)–at the Vashon Island home where Gardners have lived since 1898, and announce, “OK, it’s going to be Friday. I want to go on Friday.” Then he would contact a doctor, request a barbiturate and die as he has tried to live–with purpose and intent.
At the moment, however, that is illegal, and Gardner is willing to moderate his vision in the interest of passing any law that would allow what he calls “death with dignity.”
I will leave Gardner’s cliche romanticizing of assisted suicide to another time. But it is clear from his attitude that he is following the assisted suicide game plan: Pass laws limiting legalized assisted suicide to the terminally ill. Once assisted suicide is deemed acceptable and becomes popularized, then expand the license–whether through further legislation, court action, lax enforcement, or all three–toward the ultimate goal of near death on demand.
Well, at least Gardner is candid about his ultimate goal. Can’t say the same for some of his assisted suicide political bedfellows.