Assisted Suicide is Neither Compassionate nor “Death With Dignity:” Oppose California’s SB 128

It is often said that whoever controls the language controls the debate.  This is true when it comes to the “compassionate left.”  They clothe their words in such flowery language as “compassion,”  “death with dignity, “personal choices,” and other words that would lead you to believe that only a Nazi would oppose such things.  When we speak of assisted suicide, such as practiced in three U.S. states, Oregon, Vermont and Washington, such flowery words are far from the truth.  What they’re selling is death, killing and possible rampant elder abuse.  Recently, the Los Angeles Times, to its credit, published an opinion piece by a doctor, called “We should Think Twice About Death With Dignity.”  Click here  to read it.

This is a hot-button issue.  Unfortunately, many people are hugely uninformed about it.  I would not want to have my life prolonged by any extreme means.  I’ve put this in writing in my Living Trust.  However, assisted suicide is another story and needs to be carefully investigated before we decide where we stand on it.  No matter where you stand on this issue, the most damaging and scariest part about such a law is the slippery slope that it creates. Once the door is open you can never close it again.  Can we afford this?  Here are some facts to consider:

In the Netherlands and in Belgium where they have such laws, the slippery slope is no longer slippery, it’s an avalanche.   In Belgium twin brothers who were going blind decided to kill themselves because they could not stand not being able to see each other once blind. Click here to read their story.  Dutch doctors report that assisted suicide is out of control and impossible to regulate. Additionally, the law in the Netherlands has morphed into doctors administering euthanasia without a person’s consent.  The Ohio Patient’s Rights Council reports these findings:  “In addition, 8,100 patients died as a result of doctors deliberately giving them overdoses of pain medication, not for the primary purpose of controlling pain, but to hasten the patient’s death. (13) In 61% of these cases (4,941 patients), the intentional overdose was given without the patient’s consent.”

Oregon’s law is equally impossible to regulate or supervise.  See additional details related to Oregon in particular later in this article.  The possibility of abuse is huge and uncontrollable.

In California there is a pending bill, SB 128, which will bring assisted suicide to California.  Once this is legal in California it will spread like wildfire to all other states.  The experience in Oregon, Vermont and Washington has shown that there is little or no oversight at all.  Lethal medicine can be picked up and administered by a family member.  In many cases, the sick and feeble are under immense pressure to take their own life, not wanting to burden their family.

Margaret Dore, a Washington attorney who specializes in these cases, has written extensively on the dangerous practices that occur in each state that has this law.  Click here to read her compelling and shocking analysis.

Another huge issue is who supervises the execution of these laws and how effective can they be controlled?  We’re not just losing money, we’re losing lives, human lives.  Here is an example of the non-supervision of the Oregon law as published by the Ohio Patients Rights Council:

Under Oregon’s law permitting physician-assisted suicide, the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) – previously called the Oregon Health Division (OHD) – is required to collect information, review a sample of cases and publish a yearly statistical report. (1)Since the law, called the “Death with Dignity Act,” went into effect in 1997, ten  official reports have been published. However, due to major flaws in the law and the state’s reporting system, there is no way to know for sure how many or under what circumstances patients have died from physician-assisted suicide.

Statements made by individuals who have been involved in assisted suicide in Oregon — those who implement it, compile official reports about it, or prescribe the lethal drugs — clearly show that the law’s “safeguards” are not protective and that effective monitoring is close to non-existent. (2)

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Stephen Hawking and the Dignity of the Human Person

Last week I saw the movie “The Theory of Everything,” the story of the great British scientist, Stephen Hawking.  As a young man out of college, Hawking got the shocking news that he has what is now known as ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease.  The movie has an emotional scene where the doctor explains to Stephen Hawking the bad news.  The doctor tells him he has no more than two years to live and he can do nothing for him.  Hawking, not only has a brilliant mind, a genius, if you will, he has lots of courage.  He is not defeated.  He gets along as best he can.  He marries, has children, and becomes one of the world’s best scientists.  The disease takes its toll on him, rendering him completely paralyzed and unable to speak.  He not only did not die in two years, as the doctors predicted, but 50 plus years later is just as prolific a scientist as ever.  He is still alive today.

While watching the movie I could not help but think of the recent case of a young 29-year-old woman, Brittany Maynard, who committed suicide via euthanasia in Oregon, after moving there for this purpose.  Brittany made her case very public and indicated that she chose this path voluntarily, with no regrets.  Doctors had given her six months to live.  Who is to say, that something could not have happened in the next six months that would have mitigated her condition, as unlikely as it was?  Certainly, Stephen Hawking’s condition was just as serious.

The question that we must answer is, do we have the right to take our own lives?  Why or why not?  I would want to err on the side of doing the right thing.  Committing suicide, under any circumstances, does not seem to me to be the right thing.  Who gave us life?  Those of us who believe in a supreme being, believe that it was God.  It then follows that only God can take a life.  Indeed, in the 6th Commandment, God orders us not to kill; this includes ourselves, in my view.

In an earlier piece on this blog, I wrote a piece on “Pascal’s Wager.”  In short, Pascal’s Wager, is a hypothetical bet.  If you bet that there is no God and lose, you’re finished.  If you bet that there is a God and it turns out there is, you end up on the right side and save your eternal life, if you lose the bet, you’re in darkness forever.  When it comes to ending a life, I want to bet on the right side of things and not on my own understanding or ease of things.