This week brought more evidence that the slippery slope is real and that we are already sliding down it. The assisted suicide lobby launched a new effort to erode the “safeguards” it touts, and commentators noted the weakening of efforts to prevent suicide.
Assisted Suicide Advocates Announce They Will Lobby to Have Reporting Requirements Dropped
Barbara Coombs Lee of Compassion and Choices (C&C), the group that successfully lobbied for state sanctioned suicide in Oregon and that remains the go-to organization for finding doctors willing to prescribe lethal drugs, wrote a piece on the group’s website announcing that it will now launch a new lobbying effort aimed at lifting Oregon’s already inadequate reporting requirements, which she says the prescribing doctors find onerous. It is noteworthy that Compassion and Choices convinced Oregon to legalize assisted suicide by insisting that there would be strict regulations on it, including reporting requirements. This is exactly the same rhetoric being used by proponents of assisted suicide right now in Vermont and other US states. Last March, at one of the meetings held by Vermont proponents of the proposed legalization bill here, a man spoke from the audience about his long experience as a staff person in the US Congress. He had discovered, he said, that all bills are amended. He was convinced that the so-called “safeguards” in the VT bill, including reporting, would disappear over time. Barbara Coombs Lee has just told us that her group, which is one of the powers behind the efforts to legalize assisted suicide in Vermont, is going to put its considerable resources into making that disappearance happen. Make no mistake. If we legalize assisted suicide in Vermont, C&C will work to erode any regulatory requirements. To see Coombs Lee’s statement, go the Compassion and Choice’s website. We won’t link it here.
Suicide Prevention Efforts Are Already Suffering
Today (September 10, 2011) is Suicide Prevention Day, and last week (September 4-10) was Suicide Prevention Week.
Stephen Drake of the disability rights group Not Dead Yet took note this week of how even those who say they are working to prevent suicides are “throwing the elderly and disabled under the bus” (http://notdeadyetnewscommentary.blogspot.com/). Isn’t it interesting that the elderly and disabled are the ones in our society who require caring that is expensive in effort and money?
Commenting on Drake’s article, Wesley Smith at the Second Hand Smoke blog, in a post called “ Invisible Suicide Prevention Week”, wrote, “…In their silence over assisted suicide, the suicide prevention community has badly undermined its own mission. In effect, they are saying that only some suicides are bad. Once you do that, the list of “good” suicides grows.” (http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/secondhandsmoke/2011/09/09/invisible-suicide-prevention-week/).
We should not forget that the suicide rate in Oregon began increasing in 2000, three years after the legalization of assisted suicide. It is now 35% higher than the average in the US. (http://www.oregon.gov/DHS/news/2010news/2010-0909a.pdf?ga=t). Oregon’s suicide rate is the 9th highest in the US. Already, without assisted suicide, Vermont’s suicide rate is the 14th highest, well above the US average. Should a state already doing a poor job of preventing suicides make assisting in anybody’s suicide legal?
An administrator at True Dignity has already received hearsay that at least one mental health professional in the state has said that some forms of depression should perhaps be recognized as terminal conditions. In Switzerland (http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/557817) and the Netherlands (http://articles.latimes.com/1994-06-23/news/mn-7740_1_euthanasia-guidelines), courts have interpreted assisted suicide laws not only to allow assisted suicide for mentally ill patients on competency grounds but to establish that the suffering of mental illness is a reason to justify it. These rulings pave the way for establishing a “right” to suicide assistance for the mentally ill. They also establish a whole new paradigm for dealing with mental illness, by ridding society of people who need care rather than by caring for them.
We Can Still Stop The Slide
Despite assertions to the contrary, the slippery slope is real. We must do all we can to keep this evil from expanding, both geographically and jurisdictionally but also in scope and damage. Wesley Smith in the article linked above, writes that we have already become “a pro suicide culture”. We do not agree with him. We believe that all of us working together can still stop this scary slide.