Death with dignity. Right to die.These euphemisms shroud the sinister nature of the culture of death’s assaults on the later stages of human Life.
In a moment of clarity this week, the Colorado legislature denounced the “right” to die by a margin of 8-5, voting down a motion that would have legalized doctor-assisted suicide (i.e., the death carried out by the late, 29-year-old Brittany Maynard in Oregon last year). The bill was modeled after Oregon legislation.
About 100 advocates for and against assisted suicide presented emotional testimony during hearings. Those in favor of the bill painted a story of desperation, fearing what would happen when their diseases progressed. The daughter of one individual who had died of a terminal disease recalled the tragedy of watching her father endure the suffering that accompanied the end of his life. A hospice worker similarly noted that, once certain diseases reach a climax, tremendous suffering can be endured by victims. The arguments in favor of assisted suicide stemmed from a dread of suffering, on the part of both patients and their loved ones.
But opponents of the bill hold that fear should not dictate medical decisions or be a measure of human dignity. Pro-Life physicians implied that assisted suicide is lazy medicinethat closes off the possibility that the original prognosis is inaccurate. Likewise, Representative Dianne Primavera shared that she had experienced that precise conundrum nearly thirty years earlier. Diagnosed with cancer and given five years to live, Primavera sought other opinions. She found a doctor with a more positive, hopeful outlook; he took her under his care, and 28 years later she is thriving. Pro-Life advocates are concerned that the legalization of suicide will decrease the number of patients who find hopeful alternatives or discover wrong prognoses.
Other opponents of the bill worry that the legislation would have detrimental effects on disabled individuals. A representative of the disability rights advocacy group Not Dead Yet, who is disabled herself, said that legalizing assisted suicide opens up the possibility that disabled and ill patients who are simply depressed will seek to end their lives when the treatment they really need is psychiatric.
Exacerbating the issue is an international push – which has sullied the US – to monetarily quantify the value of human life. As Texas Right to Life reported last week, Obamacare has provisions according to which “doctors will be paid to have discussions with patients about living wills, advance directives, and end-of-life options.”
Lest we naively think that these provisions are undertaken in an effort to promote individual freedom and choice, we must recognize that the initial push for “educating” patients on end-of-life options occurred in the Clinton administration, when research teams were commissioned to calculate the healthcare costs of individuals during their entire lifetime versus at the end of their lives. The cost spike at the end of life is dramatic. The best way to reduce this cost? Not allowing prolonged illness or hospitalization. Enter: doctor-assisted suicide.
Since Brittany Maynard, whose illness was hijacked as a tragic publicity stunt by assisted suicide advocates, assisted suicide legislation has gained media attention internationally. Just this week, Canada tragically lifted the ban on assisted suicide. But Colorado’s rejection of the act is encouraging; we hope to see other states following in succession.