We waited to post the letter in italics below until it had appeared in the mainstream press. Why? Certainly not because we didn’t like or believe the letter. We thought the recounting of a Vermont doctor’s assertion that assisted suicide for the terminally ill is only a FIRST STEP would be so explosive that the proponents would accuse the letter-writer and us of libel. After all, proponents tell us again and again that any mention of a slippery slope is fear-mongering.
The letter has now been public for at least four days, and no Vermont physician has stepped forward to deny that she made the “first step” statement. We must therefore assume that she really said this, and that the proponents of assisted suicide intend to extend this so-called “right” to those who cannot self-administer the lethal overdose, to those who are not within six months of death when making the request, and eventually to anyone who judges life (or whose life is judged by others) to be too problematic to continue. In other words, when we legalize assisted suicide for the terminally ill, we start the process of legalizing assisted suicide for anyone who wants it and eventually for anyone society judges would want if if capable of doing so. An example: in the Netherlands a woman with dementia was recently euthanized. The euthanasia was justified by a document she had prepared when she was competent that she would not want to live with dementia (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/09/first-woman-euthanized-netherlands_n_1084494.html). Ah, but this was euthanasia, the proponents of assisted suicide would say,and we will never have that here in the US. We refer them to the case of Patrick Matheny in Oregon, a man with ALS whose “helper” went public and was not prosecuted (http://www.vaeh.org/resources/). We refer them to an article published in the New England Journal of Medicine that found that 18% of assisted suicide cases in the reported study became euthanasias when “problems with completion” caused the attending physician to give the patient a lethal injection (http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM200002243420805). When we speak of the slippery slope we are not fear mongering. We are talking about something real, something that already exists where assisted suicide is legal.
We challenge the doctor who made the “first step” statement to explain herself. Left to stand, her words give the lie to all assertions that the regulations in the proposed Vermont legislation would prevent the abuses that make us certain our state should never make assisted suicide legal.
Here is the letter, which we found on the website of the Times Argus. We left the one reader comment in, both to show the lack of civility of the proponents of assisted suicide and so that we could make the point that we don’t euthanize animals just because they are suffering. We also put them down when they become inconvenient for us. Are we going to wind up putting people down because they become incontinent? How many people do you know who have done to with their pets? (http://www.timesargus.com/article/20120321/OPINION02/703219989/1022):
Prevent the first step
Published: March 21, 2012
On March 14 at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on physician assisted suicide (S.103), Harry Chen, MD, Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Health, testified that the bill was “a top priority” for the governor, who views it as a “civil rights issue.”
Honestly, I have never before considered that having a doctor write a prescription with the sole intent of killing a patient should be labeled a “civil right!” So, according to Dr. Chen’s testimony, if S.103 with all its so-called protections for a person with 6 months or less to live to get a doctor to prescribe a lethal dose of medication and a pharmacist to fill it with the express purpose of taking one’s life is a civil right, why isn’t it a civil right for a person who has more than 6 months to live? Or someone going through difficult economic, social, or family issues? Or someone depressed? Or a person who cannot self-administer the lethal dose of medication? Or a person no longer able to communicate? Or a teenager who just can’t go on? Or a person coming to the state/country for the sole purpose of suicide? Or parents who just had a baby with a disability and decide they don’t want that baby to live?
All of the above, and more, would be allowable reasons in Holland to have a doctor prematurely end someone’s life. I consider this murder; and to call S.103 a civil right is a stretch and opens the door to all the other possibilities. When people say there is no slippery slope with S.103 (PAS), they are not being honest. Several years ago I attended a Death with Dignity Vermont presentation facilitated by a family physician who stated numerous times that if Vermont passes a bill it will be the first step and may not meet the needs of everyone, but it is the first step. S.103 is not a law that is needed in any state or any country, now or ever!
You are being nothing short of a horses butt for using the family issue,depression.teenager thing as an example.this is to give a person who is suffering a choice to not have to deal with the pain anymore.This is all about personal choice,not ones religion or personal beliefs.If you dont like it,you simply dont have to consider it.
The last time a checked,you could go to jail for making animals suffer,but you think it is ok to make a human being do the same,strange.