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I cannot respond to every blog entry or story about assisted suicide that is filled with deplorable sentiments or outright lies, not to mention anti-religious bigotry. They are just too ubiquitous!

But this one requires comment because it applies the “V-word” like a bludgeon in the title to describe human beings, an epithet that like the N-word, is intended to demean, dehumanize, degrade, and isolate. In something called Slog (I think it is associated with an alternative weekly, not sure), someone named Dominic Holden writes in “Catholics Want to Make Your Medical Decisions While You’re a V———,”about a friend who died of cystic fibrosis. From his column:

It’s not that they are anti-choice conservatives. They are pro-choice, it turns out. They want doctors to make all end-of-life choices for you.

Last Friday marked the three-year anniversary of my friend Kim’s death. She was the most opinionated person I’ve ever known and she was a one-woman patient advocate. She had cystic fibrosis and suffocated for a year before dying at a hospice. So I asked the anti-1000 camp how they would treat her suffering, or her “depression” if she had wanted to die. They argued Kim didn’t have to suffer; she just had to be sedated to the point of unconsciousness for the last six months of her life. But who would make medical choices about medicine, nutrition and everything else for Kim while she was out? Doctors would. These religious doctors—moral arbiters with stun guns—want to make every choice for patients and would-be sinners as they spend their last days knocked out on a respirator. That idea, and the blatant lie that this isn’t about morality, should die.

Of course, this is nonsense. First, there is no indication that Kim would have wanted assisted suicide. Secondly, if she had been depressed, again no indication that she actually was, hospice professionals have the ability to, and usually are able to effectively treat it. Third, palliative sedation is not something that is done for 6 months, when it is rarely required, it is at the end stages of life. Moreover, the patient would have made those decisions ahead of time, or her duly appointed surrogates, not the doctors.

Treating terminal illness requires hands-on, loving commitment from a multidisciplinary team. Assisted suicide Oregon style merely requires a medical license and a prescription pad. People who are dying deserve attention, commitment, love, and devotion from their caregivers, family, and friends. I certainly hope Kim received these. Assisted suicide is just the opposite, since it confirms in the mind of the patient that they are a burden, that they are better off dead, that they will be allowed to die in agony, etc.

And perhaps this author ought to read up about what is really happening in Oregon. We now know that 25% of patients receive lethal prescriptions even though depressed. We know they receive prescriptions when they are not suffering significant symptoms. We know that the guidelines often aren’t followed (they really aren’t meant to be). We know that at least one HMO wanted plan doctors to assist suicides of people who weren’t their patients. We know that Oregon Medicaid offered to pay for assisted suicide for two cancer patients but not to pay for chemotherapy to extend their lives.

But it’s all a Catholic plot to force people to suffer. I guess that’s why the disability rights movement—secular, politically liberal, pro choice on abortion, etc, opposes assisted suicide and I-1000! Well actually, it is because they know assisted suicide promotes abandonment and dehumanization, as evidenced by Mr. Dominic’s despicable headline.

If the N-word were used in a headline, it would be rightly derided as hate speech. This is too.

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