We had noticed that the theme of Wesley Smith’s article below __that assisted suicide advocates believe it should be available to anyone who wants to commit suicide__seemed to inform many comments on the Ross Douthat article about suicide and loneliness that we posted on Sunday, May 19 (http://truedignityvt.org/?p=1017) and also to a followup article by Douthat that can be read at http://douthat.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/05/23/the-trajectory-of-suicide/.
One of our readers reports that she heard a Vermont family physician tell a gathering of proponents several years ago that legalizing assisted suicide for terminally ill people able to self administer the drugs would be a “first step”. Last year when we posted her observations, we expected an outcry from the other side, but there was nothing but a deafening silence. Is assistance in suicide for anyone who wants it really on these people’s agenda? Followed maybe by assistance in death for people society thinks should want it?Coming Swiss Suicide Right for the Healthy?
Society’s acceptance of assisted suicide’s ideology eventually will lead, I predict, to a right to help being made dead for any adult with more than a transitory desire to die–and for any reason. After all, assisted suicide ideology couples radical personal autonomy and total body ownership with a view that killing is an acceptable answer to suffering. Moreover,”suffering” is seen as an entirely subjective concept, meaning it is whatever the sufferer says it is. No judgment allowed.
That being so, how can a “right to be made dead” be limited to the terminally ill, the catastrophically disabled, or indeed, even those experiencing measurable physical symptoms? It can’t. Thus, in Belgium, we have seen a joint euthanasia of an elderly couple who didn’t want to be separated. Ditto, Switzerland. In the Netherlands, a growing number of people with mental illnesses and the aged “tired of life” are being voluntarily killed or assisted in suicide by doctors. Indeed, Netherlander doctors are allowed by an ethics opinion from the Dutch Medical Association (KNMG) to teach patients, who are not legally qualified for euthanasia, how to do the deed themselves!
In Switzerland, a healthy woman who didn’t want to experience the decline of aging but was actually denied assisted suicide, has sued, claiming a doctor should be forced to prescribe for her. The court didn’t do that, but it has ordered the country to create more clarity in its laws about who has the legal right to help being made dead. From the Washington Post story:
The vagueness of Swiss laws “concerning a particularly important aspect of her life was likely to have caused Ms. Gross a considerable degree of anguish,” the court found. And while Swiss laws allow for the possibility of obtaining a lethal dose of a drug on medical prescription, it added, those laws “did not provide sufficient guidelines ensuring clarity as to the extent of this right.”
Note: The absence of clear guidelines was seen as a cause of anguish. That point could easily be read to mean, not having access to suicide itself is an unacceptable cause of suffering–particularly as many non terminally ill people commit assisted suicide at the Swiss clinics already.
If history is any guide, the legal “clarity” will move Switzerland toward even greater ease in accessing assisted suicide than already exists–perhaps even for the unquestionably healthy:
The court said it recognized the issue is a difficult one, but that more specific Swiss laws would help doctors make better informed decisions free of fear of litigation or bad publicity. The Swiss government said in 2010 that sodium pentobarbital could be used in exceptional cases for severe psychological illness.
A year later, the Swiss government dropped plans to impose stricter rules regarding “passive assisted suicide.” The government said the current rules strike a balance between protecting vulnerable individuals and safeguarding their right to self-determination, and new laws could infringe on people’s personal freedoms.
Note where the focus lies–on the first pillar of assisted suicide advocacy. Thus, even though the court didn’t say that Switzerland had to liberalize the law, that is what I predict law makers will do, rather than impose any meaningful restrictions. More liberality equals less protection, equals another big step toward death-on-demand. But that’s what happens in a culture of death.