Linked at the end of this post is a very balanced article about euthanasia and assisted suicide: how they are spreading in Europe, how Canada, with last week’s court decision, is poised to follow, and how the US is trending in the same direction.
It clearly describes the dangers , at least some of them. We wish it had explained more clearly how putting the final decision about who gets to die in the hands of doctors or any other person inevitably leads to deaths that are not freely chosen.
It is easy to see that euthanasia does that, but people think assisted suicide leaves the final decision to the patient. It does not. In the first place, doctors decide who gets the lethal prescriptions. In the second, the laws in the US do not provide any oversight at all over what happens after a person fills the prescription. Six months or more later, when the drugs are used for suicide, there is no re-evaluation of competency. There is no disinterested witness required at the death. There is not even a requirement that the person self-administer the drugs; the laws only say they are intended by the prescribing doctor for self administration. Before Patrick Matheny committed suicide with drugs legally obtained for that purpose, in 1999, he gave an interview to the Oregonian in which he stated that he feared waiting too long, until his ALS had progressed to the point at which he could not commit suicide on his own. In the end, according to his brother in law, he did wait too long. Though the brother in law, who was alone with Matheny when he died, went public with the fact that Matheny could not swallow the drugs and that he had “helped” get them into him, refusing to describe what he had actually done, he was not prosecuted. Email [email protected] for a copy of the interview, which we had to purchase from the archives of http://www.oregonlive.com/oregonian,. It appears that Patrick Matheny’s brother in law got away after making a public announcement that he had committed euthanasia, here in the US where it is illegal. Also when people who are for assisted suicide write us, they inevitably talk about how they wish they could have put their suffering loved ones down the way we put down pets, though we don’t just do it with suffering pets but also with ones that are inconvenient for us. That folks, is not assisted suicide. It is euthanasia. Euthanasia is what the proponents want, and they may not be too far off the mark in thinking that is what they are getting with these assisted suicide laws.
Our question is, “Did Patrick Matheny, at the last minute, say, as we have heard that one of Jack Kevorkian’s patients said, “Wait”? Were his final wishes, like Kevorkian’s patient’s, not heeded? No one will ever know.
And, as the article says, euthanasia is contagious. We think that’s just fine with the proponents, but the prospect should be enough to jolt those who oppose this but done nothing to stop it out of their apathy.
Apathy also kills.