If Suicide a Right Must be Open to All

As regular readers know, I am increasingly impatient with the phoniness of the assisted suicide debate. 

Hemlock sellers pretend that it will be strictly limited. But they also claim that assisted suicide is the ultimate civil right.

If that is so, how can it be limited strictly? Indeed, other than, say, a troubled teenager or someone with an impulsive or transitory desire to die, how can it be restricted at all?

By Wesley J. Smith from his blog: Human Exceptionalism

Logically, it can't, the point made in a typically excellent column by the Canadian journalist, Andrew Coyne. It is important to read the article from the beginning, because he follows the logic. For example, we are told euthanasia is only for the terminally ill. Except, Quebec already left that limitation behind. From, "If Assisted Suicide is a Right, How Can It Not be for All?"

Under the Quebec law the pain could be "physical or psychological." And the patient doesn't actually have to be incapable of killing themselves or even disabled: just in "an advanced state of irreversible decline in capability." So we have expanded the definition somewhat from our initial argument. But that only makes sense. Would we extend a right to the disabled we would deny to everyone else?

Along these lines, I once did a talk radio show in San Francisco, shortly after one of the host's colleagues jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge due to a business scandal. Within one minute, he went from arguing assisted suicide should be severely restricted to asserting that his friend should have been able to go to a doctor rather than take the big jump! Logic moves inexorably in the human mind.

Back to Coyne:

In those European countries that permit the practice - Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Switzerland - there is no requirement of terminal illness, either. Again, this is only logical: A disease can cause unbearable suffering without being fatal. Neither would it seem necessary that the suffering be disease-based. For example, Belgium has lately extended the right to euthanasia to prisoners serving life sentences.

Yup. Simple logic.

More Coyne and more application of logic:

Similarly, should the right to a painless death really be restricted to adults? As Eike-Henner Kluge, former director of ethics and legal affairs for the Canadian Medical Association, has argued, this is an obvious example of age discrimination. Here again Belgium has shown the way, amending its legislation this year to allow children to seek help in killing themselves, albeit with the consent of their parents or guardians. That's probably unavoidable, though it is natural to ask whether parents who could refuse their children that request, if the alternative were constant and unbearable physical or psychological pain, should really be left in their charge.

Well, you get the picture. Coyne concludes:

The more clearly we think about the issue, the more we will realize how incomplete, how inconsistent current models of legalization are. This is not a matter of slippery slopes, but of respect for personal autonomy and equal rights for all. The euthanasia most people have in mind - severely disabled adults, at the end of their lives, making a conscious choice in the absence of other alternatives - is not in fact what is at issue. Indeed, if we are honest with ourselves, we will see that what we are really talking about here is not the rights of the disabled, but the normalization of suicide, as the rational alternative to suffering.

No longer something to be discouraged, stigmatized as an act of individual aberrance, it will henceforth be a social act in which others are expected to assist. Just so long as we acknowledge that that is what we are doing.

This is the argument we would be having if assisted suicide advocates were interested in honest and open debate. But they are not. And neither is the media who are huffing and puffing so hard about Brittany Maynard. They just want society to let them light the fuse, you know, just an itty-bitty fire.

Of course, they also know that small incendiary action that leads to a much bigger boom. Advocates know the cultural bomb will eventually go off. It's what they want.

More articles:

A Right to Euthanasia?
Right to die becomes obligation
The utopian dream of controlling the uncontrollable
The irresponsibility of those who argue for the 'right to die'.