Support First Things by turning your adblocker off or by making a  donation. Thanks!

Assisted suicide advocates are cultural imperialists who, as they pretend they only want a “limited” change in law and culture, actually seek to widen and expand the euthanasia/assisted suicide license through the use of  loose definitions and broadly worded “restrictions.” A newly proposed amendment to HB 304 by Representative Charles Weed fits this usual pattern. For example, note that a terminally ill patient need not be actually suffering serious symptoms to qualify for assisted suicide. From the Amendment (no link). I have put crucial text in italics:

Many terminally ill patients experience severe, unrelenting suffering, mental anguish over the prospect of losing control and independence, and/or embarrassing indignities for long periods while they are waiting to die from terminal illness. To remedy these situations, the state of New Hampshire hereby declares that the law shall permit a licensed physician, upon written request of a terminally ill patient, to provide such patient with a prescription for lethal medication which, will allow the patient, if the patient chooses to do so, to self-administer and thus control the time, place, and manner of death.

This is consistent with the experience of Oregon, where actual agony is rarely a cause for wanting assisted suicide.  Don’t get me wrong: Fears and existential worries are certainly serious issues that require addressing by proper care givers. But under this amendment, they are explicitly made into reasons for doctors to abandon patients to death via prescription of poisonous overdose—this, even though people have an amazing capacity to adjust to the diminution of capabilities during the dying process.  Also, note that the above conditions are often experienced by the frail elderly and people with disabilities—and for far longer.  What logic, then, restricts access to assisted suicide to the terminally ill?  None.  Such restrictions are a mere political expediency, and once accepted popularly, will establish the principle permitting a broader assisted suicide permissibility as has occurred in the Netherlands and Switzerland.

Here’s another example: The patient needs to be “capable,” to qualify for assisted suicide. This term has nothing to do with mental fitness or health. Rather, it means the ability to communicate:
III. “Capable” means that, in the opinion of a court or in the opinion of the patient’s attending physician or consulting physician [meaning, it might not be the patient’s own doctor], a patient has the ability to make and communicate health care decisions to health care providers, including communication through persons familiar with the patient’s manner of communicating, if available.

The italicized clause means that the patient might not even be the one making the request when he or she is not able to directly communicate in an understandable way with the prescribing physician.

Usually, state laws and proposals require that patients asking for assisted suicide be residents. But now, an amendment to HB 304 in New Hampshire would permit non residents to receive assisted suicide in New Hampshire:
XII. “Qualified patient” means a capable adult who us a resident of New Hampshire or is a patient regularly treated in a New Hampshire health care facility...

This would generally spread assisted suicide access to citizens of MA, VT, and MN. But it also at means people from all over the country could easily qualify for assisted suicide by traveling to NH for treatment, then obtain the prescription, and go home.

Assisted suicide advocates to not want a limited license. Even here, where the political situation requires them to pretend that the death agenda will be restricted to people with terminal illnesses, they can’t help revealing the actual breadth of their ambition.

Dear Reader,

Your charitable support for First Things is urgently needed before July 1.

First Things is a proudly reader-supported enterprise. The gifts of readers like you— often of $50, $100, or $250—make articles like the one you just read possible.

This Spring Campaign—one of our two annual reader giving drives—comes at a pivotal season for America and the church. With your support, many more people will turn to First Things for thoughtful religious perspectives on pressing issues of politics, culture, and public life.

All thanks to you. Will you answer the call?

Make My Gift

Comments are visible to subscribers only. Log in or subscribe to join the conversation.



Filter First Thoughts Posts

Related Articles