Compassion & Choices and other promoters of assisted suicide, plainly put, are “pulling the wool over the eyes” of our legislators and society in general. When a person is terminally ill and suffering, they assert he should be legally permitted to kill himself using a doctor-prescribed dose of deadly drugs. They assure us that the laws they propose are limited to people who are near death and have “safeguards” to prevent abuses. However, once assisted suicide is legalized, proponents lobby to make it more widely available (e.g., to non-terminal and mentally ill patients) and to remove the purported safeguards, calling them “obstacles” to access. Clearly, Compassion & Choices and company will use any tactic – including deception – to get a “foot in the door,” fully intending to push until the door to physician-assisted suicide is wide open to anyone, for any reason, with no protection for those who might be coerced to kill themselves.
The truth is that allowing physician-assisted suicide corrupts the practice of medicine and the doctor-patient relationship. Furthermore, it perverts the law by denying the dignity and equality of every man, woman, and child.
Legalizing assisted suicide is completely counterintuitive to standard suicide-prevention efforts. The law is a teacher. Laws that allow physician-assisted suicide teach healthcare professionals and, in fact, all of us to be nonjudgmental regarding a sick person’s “voluntary choice” to commit suicide. To be nonjudgmental of any person’s choice to kill himself is to be biased—it is to say to the person, “I do not value your life enough to try to talk you out of killing yourself.”
The basis for suicide-prevention centers and hotlines is that suicide is not a rational act—it is a desperate act. Regardless of circumstances, suicide contradicts the natural inclination to preserve one’s own life. A person who has been diagnosed with a life-threatening health problem should not be discriminated against but should be treated with appropriate preventive measures just like any other suicidal person.
We must resist the passage of assisted suicide laws and speak up now, demanding that every medical professional protect and advocate for life—every life! And we must start by asking this of our own personal healthcare providers. A chorus of voices teaching that suicide is always wrong and that helping someone commit suicide is the height of perversity may yet save many lives.
Julie Grimstad is the president of the Healthcare Advocacy and Leadership Organization. This article has been reprinted with permission. Visit halovoice.org for more information.