October 4, 1996 in City

No One Has Right To Assisted Suicide Right To Live Right To Die Could Turn Into ‘Hurry Up And Die.’

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Sometime next year the U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether you have a right to have your doctor kill you.

Advocates of assisted suicide like to tell scary stories about ugly deaths.

But if you think death seems frightening now, what will it be like if those who someday will assemble outside your hospital room - your heirs, your health insurance company, your physician - have a lethal new tool in their hands and an incentive to use it? Hurry up and die, old man. Your medical bills are killing us.

Far fetched? No. When the Netherlands stepped through the doorway of assisted suicide, its old and sick people landed on a slippery slope that is hastening thousands to their grave. More and more are being killed without their consent - they are too sick to say what they want, so someone else decides for them.

Once society abandons the ethical high ground, where 2,000 years of Western civilization has protected life and required that physicians be only healers, never killers, then we all plunge into an abyss of expediency. There, the decision to kill - under what circumstances and with what safeguards - is a matter of pragmatism rather than principle.

This is a terrible time to take that plunge. Health insurance bean counters are dictating medical care decisions. Medicare’s going broke. The huge baby boom generation soon will retire, piling its Social Security costs onto a shrinking population of working wage earners. And assisted suicide is cheap.

Euthanasia comes before the U.S. Supreme Court because two federal appellate courts approved it. The laws of Washington and New York, like laws throughout the Western world, ban euthanasia. In addition to this statement by their elected representatives, the voters of Washington defeated an assisted-suicide initiative in 1991. So euthanasia fans sued. And a few unelected judges decided the U.S. Constitution contains an unstated, previously unnoticed “right” to assistance in suicide.

It is sheer fantasy to claim such a right was intended in the Constitution - or that it’s desired by a majority of Americans, who have looked to law to guard their lives.

If death in the midst of modern medical machinery seems cruel, the solution is not to make doctors killers. It is to back away from the machines and improve medicine’s skill at its oldest task: comfort.

, DataTimes MEMO: For opposing view, see headline “Dying shouldn’t be forced to suffer”

The following fields overflowed: SUPCAT = COLUMN, EDITORIAL - From both sides CREDIT = John Webster/For the editorial board

For opposing view, see headline “Dying shouldn’t be forced to suffer”

The following fields overflowed: SUPCAT = COLUMN, EDITORIAL - From both sides CREDIT = John Webster/For the editorial board

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