Stepping Down the Slippery Slope

Thanks to Rose Marie for letting me know that there is a bill making its way through our state legislature that would permit certain people to seek, and certain people to grant, the means by which to legally end their own lives.  The bill is here, and I encourage you to read it through.  It isn’t as complicated or daunting as it first appears, and it’s important to learn how to read legislative proposals.  The State Senate Health Committee passed this bill 6-2.

Several thoughts.  First of all, language.  Section 443.15 (page 13) mandates that this legislation and practice cannot be referred to as mercy killing, active euthanasia, or lethal injection.  The language the bill uses for the means of ending one’s life is medicine.  Take a look at the definition for medicine.  What horribly inappropriate terminology, to pretend that the materials being prescribed to end one’s own life are anything other than poison, since that is their intent, regardless of how they might be otherwise prescribed in order to preserve life.  It must be comforting to medical researchers that a breakthrough medicine aimed at saving lives might instead by misappropriated by the state towards the opposite end.

Continuing the charade that what is happening is not the poisoning of the patient, the bill also mandates that the cause of death for someone who avails themselves of this right and these materials must be the underlying sickness/disease they are suffering from, not the medication they have been legally prescribed (section 443.7b, page 8).  How convenient of the State to wash its hands of authorizing the patient’s premature death.

I think it’s interesting that the bill would allow doctors and pharmacists to opt out – not to participate in this legal practice.  In other words, a doctor might refuse to prescribe a patient enough medicine to kill them, or a pharmacist might decline to fulfill such a prescription (section 443.5, section 8, page 8; section 443.12b, page 11).  It seems rather naive to think that once this bill becomes law, doctors and pharmacists will not be compelled to fulfill their patient’s legal wishes to prematurely end their own life.  Likewise language that prohibits insurance providers and others from differentiating the fees they charge people based on either the determination to or not to avail themselves of this right seems ridiculous.  So the person that informs their insurance agency that, in the event of a terminal disease they will end their life early isn’t going to get a discount for this?  So the insurance company just makes more money by charging them as though they’re going to avail themselves of every actual resource to prolong their life?  Really?

Finally, I think it’s interesting that family does not need to be notified (sample form, page 9).  Once again the State is happy to intervene and facilitate our wishes – whatever they are and regardless of how they might impact those who actually know and love us – without the pesky mess of informing family.  And since the death certificate is only going to list the underlying disease/illness, how convenient that it will be hard to hold anyone accountable for someone making this sort of decision alone and isolated.  Once again we can be spared the difficulty of dealing with family because we have a benevolent State who won’t cause us any difficulties.

The very language of the entire bill makes it clear what a counter-intuitive thing is being proposed.  All the caveats and hold-harmless clauses are enough on their own to raise red flags that something here is very, very amiss.  How is it that such legislation cannot be considered elder abuse?  Would it be elder abuse if a family member told grandpa that it would be better off for him to end his own life rather than making his family take care of him?  Seems like there likely might be grounds for such a charge.  But no such charge can be made against a physician, who probably barely knows the individual and has no lasting relationship either with that person or their family.  A few whispered words about saving your family a lot of financial and emotional suffering, seeds planted in a moment of vulnerability and weakness – this can’t be considered a form of elder abuse?  Why not?!  Because we say it’s not.  End of story.

As we continue to model ourselves after Europe’s progressive or enlightened policies, it might be worthwhile to read some of the problems that Europe is reaping from their decision.  Like this.  Or this – particular the last bits about patients not being able to request it, and their doctors requesting it for them.


One Response to “Stepping Down the Slippery Slope”

  1. Debating Dilbert | Living Apologetics Says:

    […]  The issue?  The legislation looming in California regarding doctor-assisted suicide, which I wrote about the other day.  I’m hesitant to get involved in these sort of online debates, as they […]

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