Proponents of assisted suicide in Vermont have done a good job concealing their unpleasant motives, sticking largely to talking points about patient comfort and autonomy. Occasionally though, they get sloppy and let an ulterior motive slip into the general media.
Such was the case last week when the AP published a story highlighting an avid cheerleader for legalizing assisted suicide in Vermont, Terrence Youk, who is the brother of a man euthanized by Jack Kevorkian. Terrence Youk believes that Kevorkian performed “a service” when he euthanized his brother, and he drew no distinction between euthanasia and assisted suicide. Certainly Youk was supposed to be sitting quietly on the sidelines to avoid any obvious connection between assisted suicide supporters and euthanasia proponents. Oops.
This happened again on April13th in a Manchester Journal editorial. The editor wrote in regards to assisted suicide “Death is an uncomfortable subject for most of us, who never want to think about what life is going to be like when we are old, infirm or too sick to live life to the fullest, as we may define that. As the costs of medical care continue their seemingly inexorable climb, it may begin to become something it makes sense to have a plan for.” The editorial exposes the financial burden of the terminally ill on society as a reason for assisted suicide.
Oops again. The Manchester Journal gives us an accidental reminder that assisted suicide fits well into the grand scheme of reducing medical costs. It costs much more to care for the sick than it does to help the sick commit suicide. Further, it reminds us of the serious reality that those who are terminally ill will feel pressured to commit suicide if the option is available, rather than impose a financial burden on his/her family.
As the debate about assisted suicide and end of life care continues, we will hear considerably more about the proponents reasoning and strategy. We know that assisted suicide is an important provision to lowering the medical costs of end-of-life care. And we maintain that the terminally ill deserve much better than to have their end-of-life determined by financial calculations.