Declare Total Non-Cooperation With Assisted Suicide

The article was published by First Things on April 29, 2016.

By Wesley Smith

Wesley Smith

Wesley Smith

I recently gave a speech to a group of conservative senior citizens in California, arguing against assisted suicide, which is due to become legal there in June. Assisted suicide is not an issue that allows for fence-sitting, so although I expected (and received) a friendly reception for the most part, I knew that at least a few people would use the Q & A to tell me that I was full of beans.

Sure enough. “You have made a cogent and reasoned presentation, Mr. Smith,” one of the first questioners told me, his voice rising in anger as he spoke. “But if I want to die, I want to be able to die, and I don’t want my family or me stigmatized by people saying I committed suicide!” In other words, nothing that I said mattered. The man was set in his opinion, and neither the facts about euthanasia practice nor the need for accurate terminology regarding self-killing would change that.

And so it went. Those who agreed with me—the majority of this particular audience—spoke of how their vulnerable loved ones would be endangered by the law, while the law’s supporters mostly made angry assertions about their right to die. Dialogue? What’s dialogue?

Link to the full article

Assisted suicide: An idea that loses its appeal when it is understood

Charles Camosy

Charles Camosy

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The State of Minnesota is currently debating assisted suicide bill SF 1880. Today, there is a hearing in the Minnesota Senate’s Health, Human Services and Housing Committee on the bill. Yesterday, an article by Charles Camosy, Assisted suicide: An idea that loses appeal as it becomes tangible - Liberals may find themselves opposed, as they should be. Camosy is a professor of bioethics at Fordham University.

Camosy first explains why assisted suicide is opposed: 

The truth about assisted suicide is that it 1) takes time to understand and that it 2) turns political stereotypes on their head. 
Let’s go back to June 2012, five months before the elections that year. Massachusetts has assisted suicide on the ballot. Polls indicate “overwhelming support” in that liberal state: 68 percent support legalizing it, while 19 percent favor its remaining illegal. 
But then something remarkable happened. The people of Massachusetts began to understand the issue. 
Support of assisted suicide is thought to be a liberal idea, but supporters often sound quite conservative. “I want my personal freedom! Government stay out of my life! My individual rights trump your view of the common good!” 
The summer of 2012 saw Massachusetts liberals calling this out. Victoria Kennedy, wife of the late U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy, published a piece titled “Question 2 Insults Kennedy’s Memory.” Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne Jr. also wrote a piece arguing against the measure, “Liberals Should be Wary of Assisted Suicide.” Disability-rights and physicians groups also were fundamentally opposed. 
The result? In a mere five months, the liberal case defeated assisted suicide.

Camosy then explains why assisted suicide causes concerns.

Link to the full article

John Kelly (Second Thoughts) testimony opposing assisted suicide bill B21-38 in DC

This testimony was published on the Not Dead Yet website on June 23, 2015.

Chairperson Alexander, Members of the Committee on Health and Human Services:

John Kelly

John Kelly

I am the director of Massachusetts Second Thoughts: People with Disabilities Opposing the Legalization of Assisted Suicide. We were the progressive voice in Massachusetts that helped defeat the assisted suicide ballot question in 2012, and again in the legislature last year. Our opposition is based in universal principles of social justice that apply to everyone, whether disabled or not. Drawing on those same principles, we supported the medical marijuana ballot question in 2012 of the relief it brings to many disabled people.

We chose our name Second Thoughts because we find that many people, once they delve below the surface appeal of assisted suicide, have “second thoughts” and oppose it. In Massachusetts a month before the election, 68% of voters supported the ballot question. But just as closer looks in Massachusetts – and this year in Maryland, California, Connecticut, among other states –– led to a considered rejection of assisted suicide, we urge you to reject B21-38 because of the real-world threats it poses.

If this bill passes, innocent people stand to lose their lives without their consent, through mistakes and abuse. There are no safeguards now in place or ever proposed that can prevent this tragically irreversible outcome.

Doctors misdiagnose and give incorrect prognoses, frequently. In the disability community, we have many members who have been given a terminal diagnosis, some since birth, some more than once. One Second Thoughts member, John Norton of Florence Massachusetts, was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) in his first year of college – in 1955. He was told he would die in 3 to 5 years.

As a very physical person, a high school athlete, John was devastated by the diagnosis. As he began to lose function, he wrote:

I became depressed and was treated for my depression. If instead, I had been told that my depression was rational and that I should take an easy way out with a doctor’s prescription and support, I would have taken that opportunity.

Link to the full article

Physician-assisted suicide is a social contagion.

By Ryan T. Anderson

In 2012, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy’s widow, Victoria Reggie Kennedy, campaigned against physician-assisted suicide in Massachusetts. She pointed out that most people wish for a good death “surrounded by loved ones, perhaps with a doctor and/or clergyman at our bedside.” But with physician-assisted suicide, you get “a prescription for up to 100 capsules, dispensed by a pharmacist, taken without medical supervision, followed by death, perhaps alone. That seems harsh and extreme to me.”

Ryan Anderson

Ryan Anderson

Indeed it is.

Yet today, at least 18 states are considering allowing physician-assisted suicide. The media frame the debate as one about individual autonomy, especially in the face of devastating illnesses that rightly capture our empathy.

But the merciful thing would be to expect doctors to do no harm and ease the pain of those who suffer and to support families and ministries in providing that care.

Allowing physicians to help patients kill themselves changes the practice of medicine and our entire culture. Our laws impact society as a whole — not just a small handful of afflicted individuals. The question is: Will our law and public policy shape our culture to view the elderly and the disabled as burdens to be disposed of, or as people to be loved and cared for?

Human life doesn’t need to be extended by every medical means possible, but a person should never be intentionally killed. Doctors may help their patients to die a dignified death from natural causes, but they should not kill their patients or help them to kill themselves.

Link to the full article.

The Danger of Assisted Suicide laws

By Marilyn Golden,  senior policy analyst with the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF)

Marilyn Golden

Marilyn Golden

My heart goes out to Brittany Maynard, who is dying of brain cancer and who wrote last week about her desire for what is often referred to as "death with dignity."

Yet while I have every sympathy for her situation, it is important to remember that for every case such as this, there are hundreds -- or thousands -- more people who could be significantly harmed if assisted suicide is legal.

The legalization of assisted suicide always appears acceptable when the focus is solely on an individual. But it is important to remember that doing so would have repercussions across all of society, and would put many people at risk of immense harm. After all, not every terminal prognosis is correct, and not everyone has a loving husband, family or support system.

Link to the full article

Disability Rights Organizations Oppose Assisted Suicide

This article was originally published on the Not Dead Yet blog on August 28, 2014

John Kelly in Connecticut

John Kelly in Connecticut

By John B. Kelly - the New England regional director for Not Dead Yet and the director of Second Thoughts Massachusetts.

Disability rights advocates and organizations have long opposed legalization of assisted suicide. In the mid 1990s, Not Dead Yet organized to oppose Jack Kevorkian’s assisted suicides, two thirds of which ended the lives of non-terminal, disabled people. Over the last 20 years, every major national disability rights organization that has taken a position on assisted suicide, firmly opposes it. In recent state level campaigns, disability rights opposition has been a key factor in stopping assisted suicide bills.

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