Human Exceptionalism


The New York Times has reached a new low–and for that biased rag, that’s saying a lot. Now Jane E. Brody, the Times’ health columnist, is pushing two assisted suicide facilitation groups to her readers–including those who aren’t terminally ill. From her column:

As of this writing, Oregon is the only state that allows doctors to assist in the death of terminally ill patients. But as was apparent from the many e-mail messages and letters I received, not all who wish to dictate when they will take their last breath would be considered terminally ill, likely to die within six months. Some are terminally unable to enjoy life because of incurable, progressive or incapacitating ailments like metastatic cancer, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, and advanced cases of Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis or emphysemia. Some are looking down the tunnel of ever-worsening dementia and want to leave while they have something to say about it.

Brody then pushes two groups that not only promote legalization of assisted suicide, which is certainly their right, but also apparently participate in them regardless of legality. One is Compassion and Choices–formerly the Hemlock Society. And her description of this group of zealous and committed ideologues is beyond credibility:

As described by Judith Schwarz, a registered nurse and clinical coordinator for Compassion & Choices of New York, people seeking assistance are visited by a trained volunteer, who reviews a variety of end-of-life options, including obtaining adequate treatment for poorly controlled symptoms, perhaps through hospice care.

The organization “does not advertise and has no agenda,” Dr. Schwarz said in an interview, adding, “We don’t pressure or suggest, merely provide information.”

Right, and I could describe myself as the most handsome man in the world, but that wouldn’t make it so.

The other group she touts, the Final Exit Network, conducts assisted suicides using helium and a plastic bag, including of people who are mentally ill, as I pointed out here at SHS. Catch this: In the nation’s so-called newspaper of record, readers are referred to suicide facilitators:

The network’s Exit Guide program accepts members with various incurable diseases that cause intolerable suffering. Members must be “cognitively functional,” “physically strong enough to perform the required tasks” and “able to procure” the needed items. Helium, when inhaled in place of oxygen, results in a loss of consciousness within a minute and heart stoppage in 15 minutes without causing the unpleasant sensation of air hunger, the authors reported. For further information about the network [information omitted by me.]

Well, Brody sure fits the profile of the elite, privileged, professional liberal woman who we tend to see now leading the charge toward legalizing assisted suicide. Her column demonstrates that this agenda is not about a safety valve for the near dead for whom nothing else can be done to alleviate suffering–that is just the sales pitch. Her explicitly promoting of a group that helps kill people with helium proves that assisted suicide is not medicine.

What an utter disgrace.