March 21, 2015
Early this week, SB336 a Doctor Prescribed Suicide bill was introduced in the Nevada State Senate. The bill would grant a “right” to “A person who suffers from a terminal condition… to ingest a drug to end his or her life” through a drug prescribed by a doctor. We cannot allow this to pass.
Doctor Prescribed Suicide, also known as physician assisted suicide or described under other euphemisms such as “aid in dying,” “right to die” etc., is a direct assault on the sanctity of human life. We cannot tolerate in any way the notion that there is anything like a human life unworthy of life, human life that is not worth living or a human life that is not inherently and intrinsically valuable. Human life is inherently and intrinsically valuable and it does not stop being inherently valuable just because our condition becomes “terminal.” Granting some sort of “right” to kill oneself because he or she is in a “terminal” condition sends a loud and clear message to others living with “terminal” conditions that their lives are not as worth living. That is an unconscionable putdown. It is no wonder that disability advocacy groups oppose doctor prescribed suicide.
Now that the bill has been introduced, opponents should expect certain tactics to be employed by doctor prescribed suicide promoters. Here are a few things they will attempt to claim.
1. Only Christians oppose this bill. Supporters will try to paint opponents as being a religious issue and opposed only by Christians. Doctor Prescribed Suicide advocates have been defeated recently in states like California and Massachusetts. Those are hardly states anyone would call right wing fundamentalist states. If Doctor Prescribed Suicide cannot win in those states, it’s obvious that opposition is much broader than those who hold to Christian faith. DREDF, the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fundsays “Many key organizations oppose the legalization of assisted suicide, including the AMA and all 50 of its state affiliates; the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization; many prominent Democrats and liberals including Bill Clinton, Ralph Nader, and noted civil liberties journalist Nat Hentoff; many disability rights organizations; and the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC, national level).”
2. Polling shows doctor prescribed suicide is inevitable. Doctor prescribed suicide often garners early heavy polling support for its position when it is first introduced. These numbers are used to say that its passage is inevitable and that the state and perhaps the nation have come to adopt their position. But time after time, when the arguments of doctor prescribed suicide are exposed and the details and impact of the legislation are explained, those numbers change and the legislation is defeated. Doctor prescribed suicide has been defeated many more times than ithas won. Polling is not inevitable.
3. Doctor Prescribed Suicide is not suicide. Doctor prescribed suicide advocates are afraid of making it appear that they are promoting suicide. Indeed, they say they are not committing suicide. This defies language. SB 336 would lie about the cause of death and attribute death from doctor prescribed suicide to a terminal illness, not the taking of the pills which is the direct cause of death. “3. The person who signs the medical certificate of death of a patient who dies after self-administering a controlled substance that is designed to end the life of the patient in accordance with the provisions of sections 3 to 26, inclusive, of this act shall specify the terminal condition with which the patient was diagnosed as the cause of death of the patient.” (Section 1.3).
In Oregon those choosing doctor prescribed suicide were and are suffering from depression, a sense of being a burden, and a fear of a loss of autonomy more than physical pain. Saying that the cause of death is not suicide abandons the terminally ill. Doctor prescribed suicide is suicide and those considering such suicide should not be abandoned. They need and deserve the same compassion and care that other suicidal people receive. To not treat them the same says that their lives are not worth living.
Last month, Wayne Cockfield, Vice President for Medical Ethics at National Right to Life, spoke to the NVRTL Friends for Life Dinner last month. Cockfield, who is a disabled veteran noted that proponents of doctor prescribed suicide only want to give this “right” to “… to ingest a drug to end his or her life” with the help of a doctor to only 5 percent or less of the population-that is, those with terminal illnesses. Why not give this to others who don’t want to live? The answer is clear. Doctor prescribed suicide advocates believe some lives are worth saving and fighting for, but not those with a terminal condition. It’s no wonder why disability rights groups oppose doctor prescribed suicide. It sounds a loud and clear message that people like them do not have lives worth living. That is an outrageous bigotry. Human life is inherently valuable and does not lose its inherent value just because it is approaching its end.
Doctor prescribed suicide is a direct assault on the sanctity of human life. These are just some of the tactics supporters will us. No on SB 336.