Gov. Jerry Brown’s “humble, humane decision” to abandon the poor, the disabled, the marginalized, and the elderly

By Dave Andrusko

California Gov. Jerry Brown

California Gov. Jerry Brown

What a surprise. A relentlessly enthusiastic advocate of abortion on demand to infinitely and beyond praises California Gov. Jerry Brown for his “humble, humane decision” to unleash the dogs of doctor-prescribed suicide against “the poor, the disabled, the marginalized, and the elderly” (to quote Prof. O. Carter Snead).

Of course none of those non-elite people make an appearance in Dahlia Lithwick’s latest Slate opus. She is too busy harrumphing about how “All lawmakers should follow his example, especially when thinking about life and death,” as the subhead to her piece reads.

In case we miss how deeply Brown pondered “life and death” questions, her post is accompanied by a photo of a somber Brown, his eyes cast downward as if the weight of the whole world were on his weary (but humble) shoulders. And, besides, who better to help these powerless people shuffle off this mortal coil than this “former Jesuit seminary student”?

Why did I mention Lithwick’s unswerving and unswervable advocacy of abortion? Because her objective it unmistakable. It’s to contrast Brown’s modesty with the dreaded “moral certainty” of–guess who?–pro-life legislators “who would deny a woman the right to end her pregnancy…”

But the whole premise of the article (and many like it) is a farce, less more than a talking point repeated over and over by those who have no interest in looking at the real life implications of a law that had been defeated over and over and then “rammed through a ‘special’ session of the legislature convened to address the state’s Medicaid budget,” as Diane Coleman, President and CEO of the disability right group Not Dead Yet, explained.

What a sick joke–to turn a decision to abandon those who most need protection into the triumph of modesty. Brown supposedly checked off all the boxes (that is, consulted “experts”) and then having contemplated his own existential navel, concluded, “In the end, I was left to reflect on what I would want in the face of my own death. I do not know what I would do if I were dying in prolonged and excruciating pain.”

Never mind that the issue isn’t pain and hasn’t been for years and years. Rather pain was a stalking horse used by the Compassion & Choices crowd to get their foot in the door before kicking the door in. It’s about “autonomy,” which will be little comfort to all those helpless people whose lives pose an inconvenience to their “betters.” Their autonomy will be exercise for them.

One other quote from Lithwick, her stem-winder of a conclusion:

What’s staggering about Brown’s statement isn’t how much he grappled with a thorny ethical question with profound theological implications. That in itself would be novel in this political climate.

But the truly amazing thing is the fact that he struggled and concluded that he couldn’t imagine what he would do in the face of a tragedy. That kind of admission has become all but unthinkable in political discourse today. The sooner our lawmakers learn that they can’t know what the unimaginable will look like, the more likely they are to start passing laws crafted for the messy lives we lead, and not the lucky lives they demand.

Let’s consider imagination, and moral imagination. Here’s what Tim Rosales, a spokesman for the group Californians Against Assisted Suicide, which includes doctors, religious leaders and advocates for the disabled, said about this “dark day for California and for the Brown legacy.”

“As someone of wealth and access to the world’s best medical care and doctors the Governor’s background is very different than that of millions of Californians living in healthcare poverty without that same access – these are the people and families potentially hurt by giving doctors the power to prescribe lethal overdoses to patients.”

That’s the tragedy, and it’s a tragedy that Brown (and Lithwick, for that matter) will never face or even be able to conceive. The “messy lives” that they lead are lives of privilege and power.

For the victims of “End of Life Option Act,” however, there will be few options, if any, certainly not when their fates depend upon the tender mercies of the likes of Gov. Jerry Brown.