Other Nonsense from Margaret Battin
In addition to her blanket assertion that no person has been hurt by the Oregon PAS law, Margaret Battin said in her testimony that it’s OK to manipulate the language to define assisted suicide as not suicide.
She said we call Sampson a hero for pulling down the temple on himself to defeat the Philistines. She said we call St. Agnes a saint and a martyr for allowing the Romans to execute her rather than take her virginity. She said we call a pilot who crashes his plane in a field rather than allow it to crash naturally in a city a hero. In previous talks and papers, she has likened the soldier who throws himself on a grenade to a person who commits assisted suicide.
Ms. Battin is a very intelligent and well-educated woman, a world renowned philosopher. It is almost impossible to believe that she really thinks there is no essential difference between committing suicide with assistance and dying in the different ways she basically said were no different. Could she have thought her audience was so dumb and ill-educated that its members wouldn’t know the difference? Apparently the members of the Health and Welfare Committee either fit that definition or, like Ms. Battin, were counting on what they think is the public’s ignorance. In case anyone doesn’t understand what seems perfectly obvious, here are the reasons none of the examples Ms. Battin gives could ever be considered a suicide.
Sampson did not commit suicide. He never intended to kill himself. He intended to bring down the temple to defeat the unjust intruders who had taken it over. Suicide is done with the intention of causing one’s own death. Sampson was a hero, not a suicide.
St. Agnes, the twelve year old Roman girl who was executed because she wouldn’t give up her virginity, did not commit suicide. She never intended to kill herself, and she did not. Her intention was to maintain her virginity, and she did that. The Romans killed her. She did not kill herself. She is a saint and martyr, not a suicide.
The pilot or passengers who crashed their plane in a field rather than allowing it to crash on a city on September 11, 2001, did not commit suicide. They never intended to kill themselves but to save the people who would have been killed if the plane had crashed into Washington DC. They are heroes, not suicides.
The many soldiers who have thrown themselves on grenades rather than allow them to explode on a large number of people have not committed suicide. They never intended to kill themselves. They intended to stifle the explosion of the grenade so that it did not kill many others, including probably them. They are heroes, not suicides.
In all these cases, intention counts. Each of the people Battin referenced had another purpose than death for the actions by which they came to die. Webster’s defines suicide as “Self-murder; the act of designedly destroying one’s own life. To constitute suicide, the person must be of years of discretion and of sound mind (Webster’s Online Dictionary: http://www.websters-online-dictionary.org/definition/suicide. ) Note that several proponents of assisted suicide have said it isn’t suicide because suicide is irrational. Most of the definitions we found, including the one above, state that suicide is only suicide if it is a rational act.
It is also noteworthy that all the names for the acts of the people Ms. Battin referenced arose from the long social process by which language evolves. These names come from the people. They exist in all languages. The redefinition of suicide we are seeing today is a purposeful, conscious redefinition, created by a small elite for the specific purposes of deceiving insurance companies and concealing possible crimes of abuse, including murder.
We are also compelled to point out that assisted suicide is done by a person to avoid suffering for himself, while all the people discussed above, did what they did for others (in St. Agnes’s case, for God). Proponents rarely (though not never) say that people commit assisted suicide to spare their heirs, the state, or an insurance company the emotional and financial cost of their care, because that smacks of social pressure. At any rate, whether he does it for himself or for altruistic reasons from which the motive of pressure can never be excluded, a person who kills himself at the end of life has solved his problem precisely through the act of dying. That is suicide,nothing else. None of the people Ms. Battin referenced solved their problem by dying. Sampson solved the problem of the Philistine occupation of the temple by bringing it down on the occupiers; his death was incidental. St. Agnes solved the problem of maintaining her virginity by refusing to comply with the Romans; they executed her, but it was her refusal, not her death, that maintained her virginity. If she had committed suicide on her own to avoid losing, it, she would have committed suicide, but she did not; her death was incidental to her refusal. The people who crashed the plane did not solve the problem of keeping people safe in the city by dying; the solved it by stopping the plane from going on to the city; their deaths were incidental to the stopping of the plane. The soldier who throws himself on a grenade does not solve his problem by dying but by stifling the explosion of the grenade; his death is incidental. Their acts are not suicides. The person who commits suicide, even for altruistic purposes, still commits suicide, as St. Agnes would have if she had killed herself rather than allowing the Romans to do it.
Ms. Battin should have enough pride in her philosophical powers to refuse to justify the purposeful manipulation of language. She could call assisted suicide by its real names and still defend it. We wonder why she doesn’t. We wonder why the insurance companies in Oregon and Washington have allowed themselves to be dragged into this semantic game, losing money in the process. We wonder why lawyers and prosecutors in Oregon and Washington have allowed death certificates that might provided valuable information to be altered to conceal the true cause of death. This seems to be insanity on their part and cold-blooded manipulation on the part of Ms. Battin and others, including some in our legislature, who should be better than that.