By Wesley J. Smith
Maine Governor Janet Mills (D) just signed a bill legalizing assisted suicide. That means she is pro, at least some, suicides.
But her statement justifying her signing goes even further, and in my view, crosses the line to full-bore pro-suicide advocacy. From the Courthouse News Service story:
“It is not up to the government to decide who may die and who may live, when they shall die or how long they shall live,” Mills said in a statement. “While I do not agree that the right of the individual is so absolute, I do believe it is a right that should be protected in law…
That’s a very opened-ended statement. If government has no right “to decide who may die and who may live, when they shall die or how long they shall live,” we might as well kiss government-sponsored suicide-prevention programs goodbye. We should tell cops not to pull people off bridge precipices. And no more forced hospitalizations for treatment of those found beyond a reasonable doubt to be a danger to their own lives.
Mills also said that she hopes that assisted suicide is committed “sparingly” and that the state “should respect the life of every citizen.” Talk about hollow rhetoric! When committing suicide is depicted as a “right,” on what basis would the exercise of that liberty be rarely used?
Mills also bowed to supporting hospice and palliative care. But hospice is about living. In contrast, assisted suicide is about dying. Moreover, suicide prevention is one of hospice’s core services — which legalizing assisted suicide substantially undermines. Indeed, where it is legal, most victims of doctor-prescribed death in hospice never receive any suicide prevention at all.
Perhaps Mills was clueless about the import of her words. And I have no doubt she opposes the suicides of teenagers and people with a transitory or impulsive desire to die.
But that isn’t the same thing as being anti-suicide. When a governor supports some suicides — which she clearly does — that is pro-suicide. When a governor affixes her signature to a law granting the state’s imprimatur to suicide facilitation, that is pro-suicide. Indeed, when a governor proclaims that government should have no role in saving the lives of all suicidal people, there is nothing else to call it.
Editor’s note. Wesley’s great columns appear at National Review Online and are reposted with the authors permission.