By Wesley J. Smith
Alzheimer’s disease runs in my family. My mother and uncle both died from it, so I have intimately witnessed the worst that the disease can inflict.
I also know how much people with the condition need love, understanding, and patience. They are still the persons they have always been, just compromised and dependent.
I also know how vulnerable people with dementia are and how easily they can be manipulated. I am also aware that too many denigrate them as less than human — so-called non-persons — and view their lives as no longer worth living.
People are understandably terrified of the disease. Consequently, as the Catholic bioethicist Charles Camosy has written, people with dementia are targets of the euthanasia movement.
That is why I was appalled when Compassion and Choices (C&C) — the country’s most prominent assisted-suicide advocacy organization — bragged that it had partnered with the Alzheimer’s Association to advocate on behalf of Alzheimer’s patients. C & C talks a good game about end-of-life care, but their primary mission is to push suicide as an answer to serious illness. An association dedicated to the care of people with the disease had no business affiliating in any way with a group that advocates assisted suicide.
Now, the Alzheimer’s Association has seen C & C for what it really is and has terminated the relationship. From the AA press release:
In an effort to provide information and resources about Alzheimer’s disease, the Alzheimer’s Association entered into an agreement to provide education and awareness information to Compassion & Choices, but failed to do appropriate due diligence. Their values are inconsistent with those of the Association. We deeply regret our mistake, have begun the termination of the relationship, and apologize to all of the families we support who were hurt or disappointed. Additionally, we are reviewing our process for all agreements including those that are focused on the sharing of educational information.
As a patient advocacy group and evidence-based organization, the Alzheimer’s Association stands behind people living with Alzheimer’s, their care partners and their health care providers as they navigate treatment and care choices throughout the continuum of the disease. Research supports a palliative care approach as the highest quality of end-of-life care for individuals with advanced dementia.
Right. Care — not killing! Good for the Alzheimer’s Association. I just wish more such organizations understood that the activists of C & C are suicide pushers. They are not the friends of the ill and afflicted.
Editor’s note. Wesley’s great columns appear at National Review Online and are reposted with his permission.