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November 08, 2014


i once supported euthanasia. i thought "you want to die? Fine with me. We won't miss you when you're gone." And that's exactly the message we send to people when we support suicide.

Most people seem to see assisted suicide as a cultural refinement, society 'like now but better' but in fact this is an excision of values rather than an addition. Without taboos there are no values and when the umbrella of this taboo is removed we expose the values beneath to an inevitable attrition. New values, of which the core must be the morality of suicide, will rise to replace the old.

My Grandmother constantly worried that care bills would leave no inheritance for her children. It did not. Let us imagine that 10 years prior to her death at 93, when she was told she could no longer live alone she had chosen suicide. On what grounds can we condemn this in our new society? Worse how can we avoid the creation of a general morality which looks on these acts with approval?

I can see the duty to die becoming a reality. The "why be a burden to others"slogan becoming some sort of moral obligation rushing the sick out the door of life. They will probably name the clinics where that will take place "wellness centers" or serenity houses something typically politically correct that means the exact opposite of what it is.

"Creating a new ‘right’ to assisted suicide will endanger society and send a false signal that a less than ‘perfect’ life is not worth living.”

That's a huge non sequitur.

"If physician-assisted suicide is legally available, the right to die may become a duty to die."

This is merely a slippery slope fallacy.

"during a time when there was a similar push for assisted suicide in the media."

I said this in the previous thread, but I think this characterization just completely misses the point. People aren't pro-suicide. People aren't encouraging people to end their lives (in general, surely there are some crazy arguments as there are everywhere).

The public policy concern is simply about removing the governmental restrictions on assisted suicide. There is no other policy than that.

People aren't pro-suicide.


I have never actually met someone who is a "proponent of suicide."

I would think that if the headline over at HuffPost read: “Brittany Maynard Decides to Live On” there would be many people disappointed.

How do I know that? I don’t. But I’d bet on it. What would we call that?

Some odd comments here. Baxter, you mention your Grandmother perhaps choosing suicide over natural death--in order to leave an inheritance? It's obvious that under the laws that cover assisted suicide, a desire to leave a healthy estate would not get you a prescription.

One needs to be terminally ill to receive the prescription, and receive a psych evaluation. Interestingly, I was just in Oregon, at a hospital at a matter of fact, and I noticed many very old people around town, none of whom seemed very scared away by the death with dignity law.

And KWM, really? I felt for Brittany & prayed for her and supported whatever her choice was, I can't imagine anyone who followed that story not feeling a twinge of sadness for her and her family.

If there really was some serious impending danger of a slippery slope leading to a "duty to die," then sure, I could see why it might be a bad idea to continue down that slope. But there is no such serious impending danger. Instead what we have is the danger of subtle pressures, as the author in the OP more or less put it. And I agree, that danger is present. For that reason, we should never celebrate a person's death. It should always be regarded as a tragedy, as it really is.

Nevertheless, those subtle pressures need to be weighed against the interests of the terminally ill who want to spare themselves from having to endure horrible suffering. And I'm sorry, but writhing in agony seems to trump living with some peer pressure.


And KWM, really? I felt for Brittany & prayed for her and supported whatever her choice was, I can't imagine anyone who followed that story not feeling a twinge of sadness for her and her family.

Don’t confuse my comment with me saying that people cheered Britney’s death. Those aren’t the same thing. Do I think people would be disappointed if she decided to live it out? Yes, I do. But the reason isn’t because those people want to see her in the grave now. No, they just feel that her decision to end it was the right decision. This is why my comment is related to the OP.

There are people out there, in the public, who think she did the right thing. Not because she did what she wanted (i.e. living it out could’ve been what she wanted too). That’s not the issue. It’s that they think living on would be a mistake in her condition.

In addition, if she lived it out, she would no longer be a hero for “death with dignity” but just another person that would eventually die from a terminal illness.

Are there people out there like that? I’d bet there are.


Instead what we have is the danger of subtle pressures, as the author in the OP more or less put it.

Nothing like a little subtle pressure to end it, huh? What would that subtle pressure look like?

“You know, Nana, you don’t have to live like this.” Subtle?

“You know, Nana, your quality of life is really suffering.” Less subtle?

“You know, Nana, you’re not doing anyone any favors by cranking along.” Even less subtle?

These things can take different forms. But as I pointed out to RagTime, there are people like I described in my comment. What if they’re in your family? What if they’re not subtle at all?

To Ragtime

Laws are administered by human agents, men and women fallible and strongly influenced by cultural standards of morality, for example:

Now it is with reluctance that I offer this specific example, I do not mean to comment on the case per se or abortion in general. It is this passage with which I am concerned -

‘With this in mind, it is clear that a very large number, and quite possibly the vast majority, of abortions carried out in this country are against the spirit, if not quite the word, of the law, and that practically all the doctors in this country who sign abortion forms are every bit as guilty . . . ‘

From my own experience (I work in a hospital) this is very true, how many times I have read the words “she feels that her family is complete . . . and so I have placed her on the list for abortion”. This is justification clearly falls outside the spirit of the law and but is considered morally valid because of the emphasis of suffering as the prime decider in such cases.

So when we redefine something as variable as individual suffering as the determinant in cases such as these we will eventually arrive at the lowest cultural definition of suffering possible. I live in Europe and we are further along this road, mental suffering has already been accepted as the equal of physical suffering in European euthanasia cases.

If my Grandmothers predicament caused her mental distress and I do not see how this can be disproved what with the pains and infirmities of age, the death of all her friends, the indignity of being forced to leave her home and the final failure of her motherly duty to provide for her children. What would be your defense against people who would advocate her right to die? Would you say sternly “No, you have not suffered enough.” or perhaps “Your suffering is not of the recognized kind”. I should like to see how long you stood against such a wind.


Heard of death panels?

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