The Profound Dangers of Doctor-Prescribed Suicide

Editor’s note. The following comes from the Massachusetts Alliance Against Doctor-Prescribed Suicide.

“Assisted suicide doesn’t just kill bodies, it destroys all hope.  And in a world in which assisted suicide was legal and relatively routine, at least some would die, never knowing they would have lived-–as the assisted suicide pushers patted themselves on the back for their supposed compassion.”
     — Wesley Smith

Assisted Suicide, more accurately known as Doctor-Prescribed Suicide, is currently legal in the USA in only two states, Washington and Oregon.  In August of 2011 the Suicide Lobby announced another attempt to gain a second American beachhead one of their long-term targets–Massachusetts.  This attempt, if successful, would leave the other New England states and the rest of the country vulnerable.

Compassion and Choices (formerly The Hemlock Society) and the Death With Dignity Center, operating together under the alias “Dignity 2012,”  have started a Ballot Initiative Petition effort to legalize prescribing lethal drugs to “terminal” patients for the purpose of suicide.  The required 70,000 petition signatures have been gathered and submitted. The law will be placed on the 2012 ballot to be decided upon directly by the voters.

There are many serious problems with the proposed law, or indeed any law which advocates suicide as a solution to health issues.  Three of the most serious issues arise from 1)The fact that any patient with a six-month diagnosis can request Doctor-Prescribed Suicide, despite the fact that such a prognosis will often prove erroneous, 2) The lack of a firm requirement for patients to seek mental health evaluation and treatment prior to requesting Doctor-Prescribed Suicide even though suicidal ideation is most often the result of severe, but treatable, depression.

Beyond these problems within the text of the bill, there is also the fact that this bill, whether intentionally or not, seeks to shift our approach toward the sick and dying in this state from one of compassion and care to one of encouraging self-destruction.  Is this a fitting approach for a commonwealth with one of the most advanced healthcare systems in the world, where hospice and palliative care are common and highly developed?

There’s nothing dignified about suicide and there’s nothing compassionate about encouraging it or presenting it as a rational alternative.  Compassion really means “suffering with,” and the people of this state are up to the task of standing shoulder to shoulder with those facing an uncertain future and offering them our love and support, not a poison pill.

There’s no need for such a law.  There are no real benefits to such a law and it could change the way we approach the sick and dying drastically for the worse.  Let’s make the prudent choice.