The media repeatedly pound home the false meme that assisted suicide is only about people diagnosed with a terminal illness. True, some American activists make that argument. But the “terminal illness limitation” is unquestionably the minority view within the movement.
Case in point: On April 15, 2009, Ruth von Fuchs, a leader in the Canadian Right to Die Society told Canada AM (CTV) that she supports Betty Coumbias—the Canadian woman who is not sick, but who wants to travel to Switzerland with her terminally ill husband to commit assisted suicide. From the transcript (no link):
I am sorry, what kind of husband would support his wife throwing herself, figuratively speaking, on his cremation pyre? That question goes unasked. Instead, Von Fuchs sees assisted suicide as not just about ending actual suffering, but as a proper “prophylactic” against feared future suffering:
RUTH VON FUCHS: Anyhow, the thing with Betty Coumbias I think will be an extension, because it will show there is no duty to live, that life is not an obligation, it’s a right but not an obligation. It will also show, I think, that it’s rational and sensible to take steps to avoid oncoming suffering or misery. Betty is virtually certain that if she had to live without George she would suffer from intractable depression.
[AM Canada Host Seamus ] O’REGAN: She’s anticipating that she will be depressed from loneliness.
RUTH VON FUCHS: Yes...And people say she could be wrong, and I suppose that’s true. But she’s not a young woman and she’s thought about this for a long time. It’s possible that she is correct.
It’s also possible that the tribunals in Switzerland will rule that some sort of wait-and-see policy is required. But then there would be a promise to her that if indeed she’s right and is wretched without George, then at the end of a certain time—a month, for instance [Me: Grief doesn’t end in a month!] she could receive assistance then.
O’REGAN: So, what she’s trying to do is not only — I mean, I guess there’s a political element here, do you think? I mean, does she want to make a statement? Obviously, does she want to carry this through in a public way?
RUTH VON FUCHS: I think she’s ahead of her time, in a way. So, she’s trying to lead her society into questioning some of the old assumptions that life is a duty, that we must not anticipate, that we must start to suffer. But we don’t take that attitude in other areas of life. We think it’s very wise to do things like buckling up your seat belt to prevent being thrown from your car. Prophylactic measures are considered very sensible in many areas of life.