Thanks again to Alex Schadenberg (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Euthanasia-Prevention-Coalition/138827297524)for finding and posting an excellent article by Ezekiel Emanuel published in today’s online blog of the New York Times (http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/27/four-myths-about-doctor-assisted-suicide/).
According to the Wikipedia article about him, Emanuel is a fellow at the Hastings Institute and a professor at both the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Medicine and its Wharton School of Commerce.
Emanuel’s article is uncompromisingly against the legalization of assisted suicide, for all the usual, valid reasons. The only disagreement w have with it is its assertion the “poor, poorly educated, dying patients who pose a burden to their relatives” are the ones likely to be victimized where assisted suicide is legal. They are, but they are not the only ones at risk.
As we have written before, True Dignity is convinced that the affluence of the typical consumer of assistance in suicide is no guarantee at all that he or she is not being abused. Indeed financial abuse by heirs is a big problem, and there is general agreement that the cases we know about are only the tip of the iceberg. With no witnesses at all required at the time a patient takes the lethal dose of barbiturates, no one will ever know if he or she actually self-administered it without pressure, as is supposed to happen. A greedy heir or caregiver could mix it with the patient’s applesauce, or even force a struggling person to take it. Furthermore, poor people are not the only dying patients who might be viewed as a “burden” by their family or caregivers. Simple exhaustion, exasperation with difficult behavior or misguided conceptions of what constitutes “mercy” could motivate a person to hurry along the death of a sick person. Who would ever investigate the death of a person who had gotten a lethal prescription for the purpose of committing suicide? The proponents of assisted suicide say a large number of people who get the prescriptions find it comforting to have the poison on hand “in case of need” but never take it. How many of those who do die by assisted suicide where it is legal would have never taken the prescribed overdose if they had had real choice? We will never know.
Legalized assisted suicide is a threat not just to certain classes of people, but to everyone.