Though nothing is certain at this point, Aaron Kheriaty, a psychiatrist and medical ethicist from the University of California at Irvine who is closely following the assisted suicide bill in California , writes in an article posted on the Wall Street Journal website last night that the bill’s recent placement on a Senate committee’s “suspense list” is a sign that it has bogged down. If this proves to be true, the defeat of assisted suicide in a state where Compassion and Choices has budgeted $22 million to get it passed and where Brittany Maynard, through a posthumously aired video, was among the first to testify in favor of legalizing assisted suicide, will be the best news we’ve heard this year, proving once again that Oregon, Washington, and Vermont are true outliers, not in the sense of blazing a path for others but in the sense of going down a road that nobody else, after reviewing the information about it, is willing to follow. California was widely expected to legalize assisted suicide this year.
The article also pointed out a fact that was new to us; Belgium and Switzerland, which are among the few European countries where assisted suicide is legal, rank first and second in general suicide rates in Europe. This information is consistent with the strong correlation between assisted suicide and a rise in general suicide rates in Oregon, a rise that is consistent with the phenomenon of suicide contagion. Causation can never ethically be proven, since that would require creating a control group that is not exposed to media glamorization of suicide and comparing it to a group that is, but the mere existence of what appear to be copycat suicides and suicide clusters, where causation can also not be proven, has been used as the basis for preventive actions like sending counselors into a school where a student has committed suicide. Studies should be conducted in Washington and VT, where assisted suicide is just getting underway, to at least discover whether the correlation between legal assisted suicide and a rise in general suicide rates holds for other states besides Oregon; in Vermont, proposals to set up such studies have been rejected by the currently sitting legislature, which seems completely committed to its see no evil stance on assisted suicide.
Anyhow, good news is good news. Let’s hope it’s not transient good news. A lot of people are working on this. Let’s be vigilant and support them in any small way we can. More to come.
Here’s the link:
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