Assisted Suicide Is the Euthanasia of Hope

by The Center for Bioethics and Culture on October 4, 2011

By Wesley J. Smith, J.D., Special Consultant to the CBC

Legalized assisted suicide costs us the presence of good people, who had they been given emotional support to help them not commit suicide in their time of health extremis, would be so glad to be alive. I have written frequently of my last hospice patient, Bob, who had been suicidal for 2 1/2 years after his Lou Gehrig’s disease diagnosis. He told me he would have gone to Kevorkian if his family had cooperated. But they wouldn’t and so he didn’t — and to his delighted surprise, he ended his life so very glad to be alive to the last breath. He would have been cheated out of all that happiness by the false compassion of assisted suicide — and the beauty part for the doctor-prescribed-death crowd is that no one would have ever known.

The same point is made in a letter to the editor published in the Boston Globe today by a cancer survivor, reacting to an opinion column in favor of a legalization proposal in Massachusetts. From the letter “She Pushed for Legal Right to Die, and — Thankfully — was Rebuffed:”

I am a retired person living in Oregon, where assisted suicide is legal. Our law was enacted through a ballot initiative that I voted for. In 2000, I was diagnosed with cancer and told that I had six months to a year to live. I knew that our law had passed, but I didn’t know exactly how to go about making use of it. I tried to ask my doctor, but he didn’t really answer me. I didn’t want to suffer. I wanted to do what our law allowed, and I wanted my doctor to help me. Instead, he encouraged me not to give up, and ultimately I decided to fight the disease. I had both chemotherapy and radiation.

I am so happy to be alive! It is now 11 years later. If my doctor had believed in assisted suicide, I would be dead. I thank him and all my doctors for helping me to choose “life with dignity.’’ Assisted suicide should not be legal. I hope Massachusetts does not make this terrible mistake.

I am continually disheartened that letters such as this often resonate less than if the same woman had written, right after her diagnosis, that she just wanted to die. Doctor prescribed death activists will say, “Well, she didn’t die, so what’s the problem?” Intentional obtuseness.

For some reason, the contemporary “compassion” reflex has a hard time embracing a life with health difficulties — but rocks and rolls with accelerated death. But know this: There are people who received doctor-prescribed/administered death, who would have survived long enough to be happily alive had assisted suicide not been legalized in Oregon and Washington, applied so callously in Switzerland, and euthanasia added to the mix in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg.

Assisted suicide is not “choice,” it is the end of all choices. “Death with dignity,” is actually the euthanasia of hope.

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