[Publisher’s Note: As part of an ongoing effort to bring original, thoughtful commentary to you here at the FlashReport, I am pleased to present this column from Brian Johnston, Western Director of the National Right to Life Committee. – Flash]
If you are new to the FlashReport, please check out the main site and the acclaimed FlashReport Weblog on California politics.
Attentive Californians know that a pretty Californian, Brittany Maynard, was featured in People magazine and on the front page of every national newspaper before her recently engineered death in Oregon; all promoted in the name of mercy. The expected California legislation, SB 128, is now moving through the State Senate.
Can death be marketed to the public? Considering the fact that “Compassions and Choices,” the current name of what was formerly the “Hemlock Society,” has received millions of dollars from George Soros to do exactly that, it is more a question of ‘How hard will they sell it?’
The introduction of assisted suicide legislation in Alaska this week is but one more example of the nationwide, ‘full-court press’ by death advocates.
Alaska’s HB 99 by Rep. Harriet Drummond, would allow for a doctor to dispense or write a prescription for medication that would end the person’s life. However, the doctor would not administer the medication; patients would ostensibly take it themselves, according to Drummond aide Kristin Kranendonk.
Like all such proposals, it is asserted is that it would only apply when the illness, “within reasonable medical judgment,” would result in death within six months. It is assumed that the ‘reasonable judgment’ is that of the prescribing physician. It provides immunity from civil or criminal liability or professional disciplinary action.
Canada’s recent Supreme Court decision has left this nicety of ‘imminent terminal condition’ for the fig leaf that it is. They have ruled that any incurable condition, most notably a “disability,” is sufficient for killing the depressed. Think about it. If suffering for 6 months is wrong, suffering for six years or sixteen years would clearly worse, right? The Canadian Court has a point: If you are compassionate why be meager.
In Alaska’s bill, heirs may be one of the ‘witnesses’ to the request, as long as there is another ‘disinterested party’ who co-signs. (Hmmm. Interesting that this bill now actually admits to the very real possibility of monetary benefit to such killings.)
The measure explicitly belies one of the most ominous aspects of all such voluntary euthanasia proposals: the existing legal doctrine of ‘substituted judgment’ already allows a third party to ‘speak’ for the patient if he or she is incommunicado, ‘in non compis mentis’ or otherwise dependent on those with ‘power of attorney.’ The bill states the convenience of third party decision-making:
‘If a person cannot speak, the request must be made by some means in person. If the person cannot write, he or she can have another sign on their behalf.’
As with most such assisted suicide proposals, even the author herself misrepresents the actual nature of the law. Assisted suicide is the deliberate use of medicine, not to care for or comfort the patient, but to kill. In this case the physician writes a deadly prescription for the patient to self-administer. Such measures have nothing to say about denial or refusal of medical care, or ‘allowing nature to take its course’ so that the patient might die from their illness unencumbered.
In a news release Rep. Drummond said the goal is to increase patient control and reduce “unwanted and often unnecessary interventions at the end of life.” Yet that is not what her proposed law states. It does not address refusal of extraordinary treatments or even ordinary care. It only legalizes immediate killing; lethal action that is quite outside the illness or patient’s otherwise natural circumstances. It does not free a patient from intervention. It is a radical intervention. It is not natural; it is not ‘care.’ It is extraordinary, an intentional abuse of medicine, and intentionally deadly.
As in Alaska and nationwide, Californians are being sold on the virtue of intentional killing, mostly on the merit of Brittany Maynard’s ‘cuteness’ and our natural empathy for her terminal condition. But don’t be fooled by the marketing. It is the same killing proposed by the much more ominous Jack Kevorkian. And George Soros, a man equally as ominous, is paying for this ‘culture-wide’ propaganda.
If someone is actually dying, there is no need to kill them. This has been happening for a long time now. They need care and comfort; the resources are available for even the most difficult physical pain. But they may need help with the emotional pain, and our time and involvement. Now that will cost us – and it always has.
Ultimately assisted suicide is not designed for those we actually care for, but for those we no longer wish to care for.
Brian Johnston, Western Director of the National Right to Life Committee, is Commissioner Emeritus of the California Commission on Aging, and producer of the documentary film Death as a Salesman; What’s Wrong with Assisted Suicide.