Editor’s note. The following letter to the editor was published on May 31, 2018, in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Mr. Stark is Communications Associate for Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life.
Contrary to the position advocated by Joe Selvaggio in his recent commentary, assisted suicide and euthanasia are unnecessary and dangerous.
Selvaggio worries about pain and the “endless extension” of life. But pain can now be controlled better than ever. In the states where assisted suicide is legal, concern about pain (or the mere possibility of pain) is not even a major reason cited.
And it’s already legal to decline burdensome life-extending treatment and allow an illness to take its course. That’s very different from intentional killing—whether that killing is through lethal injection (as in the Netherlands and Belgium), ingesting a lethal drug overdose (as in several U.S. states), or dehydration and starvation (Selvaggio’s own “compromise” position).
Selvaggio suggests that the limitations that come with age are a good reason for such killing. “When we cannot help each other or laugh along the way, it’s time to go,” he says (quoting a comic strip). But someone’s ability to “help” me is not the measure of her value. Those who are sick and disabled matter just as much as those who are healthy and able-bodied.
Selvaggio also endorses suicide in order to prevent “ever more expenses” and to “have more resources to invest in the young.” This is the kind of pressure to die we can expect when killing is a viable option. In states with assisted suicide, some patients have been denied health coverage for treatments and offered less-expensive lethal drugs instead.
Everyone deserves support and care. Minnesota should continue to reject assisted suicide.