Written by a Compassion and Choices member whose mother committed suicide, this article is right on in pointing out the hypocrisy (practiced every day by Compassion and Choices) of trumpeting autonomy while telling the old and people with disabilities that their lives are not worth living and their medical care not worth paying for. It’s well worth reading, even though we at True Dignity disagree strongly with the author’s choice of affiliation and with her assertion that people should not interfere with a person who expresses a wish to die even to tell the person you’ll miss him or her and you’d rather he or she stayed around.
The author writes that her mother’s suicide was hard for her to accept and that she has promised her children that she will not commit suicide. Ezekiel Emanuel writes that his children are appalled at his proclaimed intention to die at age 75. If all families were like theirs, if our society were not, as the author writes, “a cutthroat capitalist culture grappling with its own decline”, perhaps assisted suicide would not be as dangerous as it is. It would, however, still be very dangerous, because minds change, as this article points out, and sometimes that change happens after a decision has been communicated and the individual who has made it can no longer speak for him or herself; people who are rescued after suicide attempts inevitably say they changed their minds after jumping off that bridge, and this author omits the fact that the New York Times article she cites describes how Brooke Hopkins thanked his wife every time she had his life support turned back on after he had said he wanted it cut off. But not all families are like the author’s or Emanuel’s, and a day came when even Brooke Hopkins’ wife did not turn the support back on and allowed him to die. We do live in a cutthroat, capitalist culture.
That’s why we need to prevent the spread of assisted suicide and euthanasia and repeal the laws that have made them available in a few places. Perhaps Compassion and Choices will one day be persuaded by its members whose eyes are being opened by what they read and see in the media to join us in the fight to make that happen. Then the autonomy they want will be real, not a sham.