Suicide By Choice? Not So Fast.

ChelseaPro Life1 Comment

ben-mattlin.pngBen Mattlin has an absolute must-read op-ed in the NewYorkTimes on why he’s skeptical about the supposed “safeguards” built into Massachusetts’ “Question 2” initiative:

NEXT week, voters in Massachusetts will decide whether to adopt an assisted-suicide law. As a good pro-choice liberal, I ought to support the effort. But as a lifelong disabled person, I cannot.

There are solid arguments in favor. No one will be coerced into taking a poison pill, supporters insist. The “right to die” will apply only to those with six months to live or less. Doctors will take into account the possibility of depression. There is no slippery slope.

Fair enough, but I remain skeptical. There’s been scant evidence of abuse so far in Oregon, Washington and Montana, the three states where physician-assisted death is already legal, but abuse — whether spousal, child or elder — is notoriously underreported, and evidence is difficult to come by. What’s more, Massachusetts registered nearly 20,000 cases of elder abuse in 2010 alone.

My problem, ultimately, is this: I’ve lived so close to death for so long that I know how thin and porous the border between coercion and free choice is, how easy it is for someone to inadvertently influence you to feel devalued and hopeless — to pressure you ever so slightly but decidedly into being “reasonable,” to unburdening others, to “letting go.”

Read the whole thing.

Physically disabled from birth, Ben is author of Miracle Boy Grows Up: How the Disability Rights Revolution Saved My Sanity.

One Comment on “Suicide By Choice? Not So Fast.”

  1. Chelsea,

    Thank you for your blog. Prior to a couple of years ago I had an unchallenged perception about people with disabilities; mostly they made me feel vaguely uncomfortable. Then I was reacquainted with a disabled co-worker I had not seen in 16 years, and we got together weekly to discuss God, politics, and science and technology. He really opened my eyes, and in doing so changed my perception about people with disabilities. This guy is pretty smart, and will forget more philosophy, theology and technology than I will probably ever learn. He told me of the euthanasia programs in Nazi Germany, one of which was known as T4.

    Looking at the problem through his eyes was a lot different than looking at them with my own, and I now appreciate how he feels about some things which were not previously on my radar. The promoters of “assisted suicide” tell of the built in safeguards that will protect the vulnerable. My question, is if the program is good and desirable and necessary, why is it not robust enough do with out the safeguards? Their cover story is thin, as thin as my previous Church’s (Episcopal Church of the U.S.A.) cover story on abortion. Just enough doubt to let myself off the hook, and allows me to rationalize that I am not embracing a monstrous policy. Thank God I came to the Catholic Church, a church that does not suggest that I may escape my limitations. A much cleaner existence, in my opinion.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *