Suicide, Abortion and a Kevorkian Round-Up

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Douthat_New.jpgRoss Douthat has a couple of good pieces at the NY Times. First, is his op-ed on death of Jack Kevorkian and the public’s approval of his deadly profession:

If participating in a suicide is legally and ethically acceptable, in other words, it can’t just be because cancer is brutal and dementia is dehumanizing. It can only be because there’s a right to suicide.

And once we allow that such a right exists, the arguments for confining it to the dying seem arbitrary at best. We are all dying, day by day: do the terminally ill really occupy a completely different moral category from the rest? A cancer patient’s suffering isn’t necessarily more unbearable than the more indefinite agony of someone living with multiple sclerosis or quadriplegia or manic depression. And not every unbearable agony is medical: if a man losing a battle with Parkinson’s disease can claim the relief of physician-assisted suicide, then why not a devastated widower, or a parent who has lost her only child?

Read the rest.

Really, anyone who thinks that legal assisted suicide (AS) would only be confined to the terminally ill is fooling himself. This is not a hypothetical “slippery slope” delusion of pro-lifers. Even many AS advocates agree that when killing is accepted in certain circumstances to relieve human suffering, it is “irrational to confine it to those who are terminally ill.” Jack Kevorkian is championed as a compassionate humanitarian who gave relief to those who had “no hope,” but in reality, some 60 % of the people he “helped” were not actually dying or terminally ill. In fact, in several cases, autopsies revealed “no anatomical evidence of disease.” And over in Switzerland, which has the most relaxed AS laws and a whole clinic devoted to killing people, several non-terminal patients have killed, including 23 year old Daniel James, who was paralyzed in a rugby accident.

Then, on his blog yesterday, Douthat has some smart commentary on Will Saletan’s Slate piece on the death of Jack Kevorkian in which he compared AS to abortion:

[I]t’s possible to accept that no government can “stop” assisted suicide or abortion completely (and that no government should create the kind of deeply- invasive mechanisms required to try) without believing that either practice should therefore be legalized and legitimated. Avoiding the police-state scenario doesn’t require treating self-slaughter as a protected right, and effectively licensing the Jack Kevorkians of the world to cater to anyone who wants to die badly enough to take the plunge. That’s how our laws treat abortion, and the result is a kind of abortion industry — in which the country’s largest abortion provider doubles as a major Democratic interest group, and for-profit freelancers take advantage of the vulnerable (a subject that Saletan has written about eloquently). If the right to die really became “a lot like” the right to abortion in America, there would be Swiss-style thanatoriums in most American cities, the Hemlock Society would be a major lobbying group (boasting, no doubt, that most of its resources go to palliative care rather than assisted suicide), and Kermit Gosnell-style thanatists would prey on the elderly while the courts looked the other way.

Read the rest

Speaking of Kevorkian, Wesley Smith has been keeping tabs on the MSM’s reportage of his “legacy” following his death last week and setting the record straight:

Washington Post Tells a Kevorkian Doozy
NYT Hagiographic Obit of Kevorkian Omits Hard Truths
Barbara Walters Pitches Jack the Compassionate “Dr. Life” Garbage
Bloomberg Obit Tells Facts About Macabre Kevorkian

Besides being a convicted murderer, Jack Kevorkian was a disturbed man who was obsessed with death and human experimentation. Maybe some part of him really did want to help ease human suffering, but the way he went about doing it was far from “dignified” and an arrogant intrusion into spiritual time. May his soul rest in peace.

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