Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby published an opinion piece Legalizing assisted suicide would send a devastating message on October 10th, 2021. The article summarizes the problems with assisted suicide legislation following the Massachusetts Joint Committee on Public Health’s hearing on October 1, 2021. The Committee heard testimony on bills H2381 and S1384. These bills would legalize assisted suicide in the state of Massachusetts. Jacoby covers the suicide epidemic in the United States, the contradiction of healthcare workers to help patients commit suicide, and the insidious language used to disguise suicide as healthcare.
It is a concern that proponents of assisted suicide are adamant about disguising the reality of their cause behind euphemisms like “death with dignity” and “aid in dying.” They insist that those who are seeking lethal prescriptions do not want to die, they desire to live but the reality of their prognosis invalidates their desire. Proponents of assisted suicide legislation suggest that this validates their desire to acquire lethal drugs and self administer them without calling it a suicide. The mental gymnastics used to make that make sense is smoke and mirrors. Jacoby cites the American Medical Association:
The bill is named the “End of Life Options Act.” Advocates in the past have used other language to describe the practice, including “death with dignity” and “aid in dying.” In the careful language of the American Medical Association, however, “despite its negative connotations, the term ‘physician-assisted suicide’ describes the practice with the greatest precision.” The connotations are negative because assisting suicide, in the view of most AMA members, “is fundamentally incompatible with the physician’s role as healer.”
Further, the stipulation in the bills that medical workers cannot record assisted suicide as the cause of death, instead they would cite the underlying condition of the patient, is essentially falsifying death records. This practice is used to further disassociate “aid in dying” with suicide. Jacoby highlights this:
To cloak suicide in the trappings of health care is a sham. Not surprisingly, falsification is integral to assisted-suicide laws. The measure before the Legislature, for example, specifies that the physician who signs the death certificate after the patient commits suicide “shall list the underlying terminal disease as the cause of death” flat violation of the basic standards for certifying deaths. A patient with inoperable lung cancer may have only six weeks to live, but if he dies in a car accident, is murdered in an armed robbery, or jumps from a bridge, his cause of death will not be listed as cancer. Yet if he commits suicide by taking lethal drugs under the provisions of H.2381, his cause of death must be listed as cancer.
The philosophical heart of this issue is, can we be an empathetic community and allow this practice to take place in our country? Proponents of assisted suicide say it is the compassionate perspective to allow those who are suffering to take their own lives. Jacoby proposes in the article that a “civilized society” would not encourage anyone to take their own life, no matter age, race, health, or circumstance.
It may seem to some like an act of compassion to help the profoundly ill do away with themselves. Is isn’t. A civilized society does not encourage depressed or despairing people to kill themselves. It tries to prevent them from doing so, which is why suicide hotlines have counselors on call 24/7. We rightly regard the recent surge in suicides among young Americans as a national calamity. We instinctively recognize that it is monstrous to urge the vulnerable, fearful, or hopeless to take their own lives. There have always been individuals who decided their lives were no longer worth living, but our culture is to see such decisions as tragic and to grieve for them — not to embrace them as a path to dignity or as a prudent solution to the sorrows of old age or sickness.
Legalizing assisted suicide in Massachusetts does not give care to those who are already sick. It puts vulnerable people at risk for being coerced and abused to make a choice they may not want to make. Tell Massachusetts legislators to vote no on H2381 and S1384.
Read the article on Boston Globe: https://www.bostonglobe.com/2021/10/10/opinion/legalizing-assisted-suicide-would-send-devastating-message/
Read more on this issue: Massachusetts LULAC Stands Opposed to Assisted Suicide