Human Exceptionalism

Kill the Bill, Not the Ill: No on A.B. 374

“Kill the bill, not the ill!” was the demonstration chant a few years ago against a bill to legalize assisted suicide in California. Now, like a virus that won’t go away, assisted suicide advocates are once again trying to transform assisted suicide into a “medical treatment” in California.

I have a piece about this in today’s San Francisco Chronicle. I cover a lot of areas, ranging from the ideology of assisted suicide to the Swiss Supreme Court legalizing assisted suicide for the mentally ill, to what is known and not known about Oregon. Here is an excerpt from the opening section:

If history is any guide, assisted-suicide proponents and the media will cast the debate in strictly religious terms — as the Catholic Church versus rational modernists. But the coalition opposing AB374 is a broad and diverse political alliance that vividly reflects California’s unique multiculturalism.
Leading the charge against the latest assisted-suicide bill ) are disability rights advocates — the nation’s most effective anti-euthanasia campaigners — who are overwhelmingly secular in perspective, liberal in politics and pro-choice on abortion. They will be working closely with civil rights activists. (The League of United Latin American Citizens, the country’s largest Latino civil rights organization, is on record as firmly opposing assisted suicide.)
These groups will be joined by medical, nursing and hospice professionals — with organizations such as the California Medical Association and the American Medical Association adamantly opposed to transforming assisted suicide into a medical treatment.
Add advocates for the poor, such as Oakland’s Coalition of Concerned Medical Professionals, mix in religious conservatives, and it becomes clear that assisted-suicide opponents have forged a potent, strange political bedfellow alliance that bridges the usual liberal versus conservative, secular versus religious, and pro-choice versus anti-abortion disputes that divide the country.
Why would people who fundamentally disagree about other issues ally against assisted suicide? One of the most important reasons is that assisted suicide ultimately devalues those it supposedly protects from so-called “bad deaths.” Indeed, legalizing and popularly legitimizing assisted-suicide opens the door to an epochal shift in the way society perceives dying, disabled and other suffering people.

To see why I reach that conclusion, read the rest of the piece. “Kill the bill, not the ill: No on A.B. 374!”

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