By Wesley J. Smith
Assisted suicide is promoted in the USA with fear mongering about the terminally ill suffering with intractable pain for which nothing other than a lethal overdose will suffice.
In actual suicide facilitation, existential issues–such as fears about being a burden or loss of dignity–rather than untreatable pain are the reasons people cite for requesting assisted suicide.
These are important issues that need to be addressed. But, like pain, they are relievable and often respond to compassionate interventions.
The thing is, these very real difficulties also could apply to the non-terminally ill elderly and people with disabilities–threatening these populations with the assisted suicide temptation the more doctor-prescribed death is celebrated in the media and normalized in society.
And now, an article published in JAMA Internal Medicine – in the context of intensive care treatment decisions–creates a new “worse than death” medical category. From “States Worse Than Death in Hospitalized Patients:” (percentages omitted)
Significant percentages of patients rated each evaluated state of serious functional debility as equal to or worse than death. For example, a majority of respondents considered bowel and bladder incontinence, requiring a breathing tube to live, relying on a feeding tube to live, and needing care from others all the time as health states the same or worse than death.
Remember, the “worse than death” terminology was that of the authors, not the patients. Moreover, these responses were from ill people not then experiencing such conditions.
And now consider the many millions of Americans now living with the very conditions that a respected medical journal has insinuated–through the stacked wording of the surveys provided patients from which the study is derived–are ”worse than death.”
Anyone who doesn’t see the danger of creating such a new invidious medical category–that could one day be used to justify rationing or euthanasia to a much wider swath of people than currently permitted by law–just doesn’t want to look.
Editor’s note. This appeared on Wesley’s great blog.