Bill to Increase Penalties for Some Assisted Suicides Passes Pennsylvania House

By Wesley J. Smith

Assisted suicide is illegal in Pennsylvania. Now, after a depressed girl was apparently encouraged to kill herself in an Internet “pro choice” chat room, the state’s House has passed a bill increasing penalties in particular cases for such encouragement. From the Penn.Live story last September:

Following a battle of depression, Shawn Shatto took her own life — and she had help.

The help came from an online chat forum that encourages suicide and walks people through the steps to end their life. In some of her last words, the 25-year-old woman expressed fear and reluctance in her posts about committing this final act. The users convinced her it was the best and only option and wished her well on her journey.

People can be just awful, can’t they?

But wait. Why are we surprised? Suicide promotion and counseling are becoming increasingly ubiquitous. The media romanticize and extol people like Brittany Maynard because they commit assisted suicide. Indeed, boosters of assisted suicide engage in equivalent immoral encouragement all the time.

Final Exit Network counsels people with illnesses, disabilities, and depression on a particular method of committing suicide — even attending and cleaning up the evidence afterwards — with no particular popular outrage, rare arrests, and fewer convictions.

Compassion and Choices — formerly more accurately known as the Hemlock Society — pushes assisted suicide legalization in the states, including Pennsylvania, with tens of millions in donations from George Soros and his fellow travelers. C & C also teaches the elderly how to commit suicide by self-starvation, which they call VSED, for “voluntary stop eating and drinking.”

The odious Australian death doctor, Philip Nitschke, teaches people how to kill themselves using common household products without penalty. Indeed, he travels the world giving how-to-commit-suicide seminars, and speaks as a hero at conventions of the so-called “right to die” movement. He also invents “suicide machines,” and the media swoon.

The bill would increase existing penalties for the assisting suicides of anyone under 18 years of age or who has an intellectual disability.

I am good with that. But I do wish that more people had a better understanding that suicide is suicide and assisting is assisting. People who want to kill themselves because of a serious illness are often vulnerable too.

I just hope any legislator who votes for this bill doesn’t later turn around and vote to legalize assisted suicide for people who are sick.

Editor’s note. Wesley’s great columns appear at National Review Online and are reposted with his permission.