Human Exceptionalism

Push to Make Suicide Easier Will Never Stop

Here’s the advocacy con advanced by suicide promoters in the UK to bludgeon Parliament into legalizing doctor-prescribed death.

First, get the media to publish pro-suicide stories of Brits flying to Switzerland for death at a clinic. The point: Make the one-way death trip socially acceptable and increase the numbers who so die.

That tactic seems to be working. From the Guardian story:

One in five people who travel to Switzerland to end their lives are from the UK, according to research that shows that the number of foreign nationals visiting the country has doubled in four years. A University of Zurich study found that the number of non-residents taking their own lives – so-called “suicide tourists” –at Swiss assisted-dying clinics increased from 86 in 2009 to 172 in 2012.

Out of 611 people who travelled to the country for that purpose between 2008 and 2012, all but four of whom went to the Dignitas clinic, 126 were from the UK, second only to Germany, according to the research published in the Journal of Medical Ethics on Wednesday.

Second, assume that these suicides were necessary–nothing can or should be done to prevent them.

Third, then argue that people shouldn’t have to travel away from home to be made dead:

Sarah Wootton, the chief executive of Dignity in Dying, said: “It’s clearly unethical to force dying Britons to travel abroad to die through a lack of safeguarded choice in this country. But there is also a patient safety issue. We have no control over the law in Switzerland, but we can and should regulate and safeguard assisted dying in this country.” She said the figures were a sign that UK law is not working.

That’s a seductive meme if you believe access to facilitated suicide is a right, a necessity, and/or if you think suicide is the only choice.

But here’s the catch: Even if the UK legalizes assisted suicide for the terminally ill–as currently proposed–that won’t stop the suicide tourism for the non terminally ill or otherwise legally unqualified.

Indeed, many of those who die in Swiss suicide clinics are not terminally ill. Some weren’t even sick:

– Like the elderly Italian woman who paid for assisted suicide because she was upset at losing her looks

– The English woman who wanted to die because she couldn’t keep up with tech and considered it the “green” thing to do.

– And let us not forget that assisted suicide is a constitutional right for the mentally illper the Swiss Supreme Court.

And then we will hear the same refrain–it isn’t fair that the dying can get doctor-prescribed death at home, but not the suffering disabled, chronically ill, elderly “tired of life,” mentally ill, etc..

Then the pressure will start to move the line to accommodate the demand. The end result? A fall off the moral Matterhorn: The most liberal death-culturish countries set the suicide agenda for the rest of the world.

On the other hand, if you want to save some lives who will be glad later to be alive because they didn’t have ready access to assisted suicide, don’t make it easy to be made dead.  Keep assisted suicide illegal. Engage suicide prevention whatever the cause of suicidal ideation. Increase access to quality hospice care and independent living services.

Some say, who cares if people kill themselves. Just acquiesce to suicide culture. Bah: Hell no, we won’t go!

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

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