New Assisted Suicide Study No More Then Pro-Euthanasia Propaganda

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 28, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

New Assisted Suicide Study No More Then Pro-Euthanasia Propaganda Email this article
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by Alex Schadenberg
September 28, 2007 Note: Alex Schadenberg is the head of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.

The following is information from a recent study to be published in the next few days in the Journal of Medical Ethics entitled: "Doctor-aided suicide: No slippery slope".

This is a study that, at best, can be referred to as propaganda.

This study was completed by Margaret Battin of the University of Utah, who is a strong supporter of legalizing assisted suicide, even for those who are not terminally ill. The way in which the study was completed would leave one to question whether her research was done simply to prove her hypothesis.

No effective conclusions concerning whether or not a ‘slippery slope’ exists can be ascertained by studying the annual reports from the Oregon Department of Human Services because these reports do not include information that would allow the study to get into the actual decision making bias of a person. These reports are compiled from the information from reports sent in from physicians who prescribed the assisted suicide concoction. It is unlikely that a person prescribing assisted suicide would self-report information that may be considered outside of the law. The Oregon reports don’t even cover real life situations such as: Kate Cheney and Michael Freeland. Since the annual reports from the Oregon Department of Human Services are only based on self-reports from assisted suicide prescribing physicians, therefore they cannot be considered an accurate source for determining the level of a slippery slope in Oregon.

For Battin to report the actual facts related to assisted suicide in Oregon, she would need to do significant interviews of actual individuals who have received an assisted suicide prescription and also speak to actual friends and family members concerning the actual events related to an assisted suicide event.

In relation to the information that Battin uses from the Netherlands reports, it is important to note that these reports admit to significant numbers of people who are annually die from euthanasia who never indicated a desire to die in this manner. Battin simply refers to this data as people who were either suffering intolerably or made a request before becoming incompetent. Battin doesn’t even refer to the fact that the Dutch courts consider mental suffering as a reason for euthanasia or assisted suicide. How can you protect people who experience depression when mental suffering is considered grounds for euthanasia.

The only way she could draw conclusions related to a Slippery Slope in the Netherlands would be by actually doing significant interviews with actual persons, who were soon to die by euthanasia, even though they did not make an explicit request. She would also need to be present at many of these deaths in order to conclude that these people were suffering intolerably.

The reality is that it is difficult to prove a slippery slope does not exist through information that is devised to support a social regime of assisted suicide or euthanasia. To actually prove her hypothesis, Battin would have had to employ advocates for people with disabilities and other care-givers who work with disadvantaged populations.

The reality is that a significant level of social bias exists within our culture that views certain types of disability and physical conditions as connected to intolerable suffering. Many people have accepted this social bias as normal and thus when they experience certain diseases or types of disabilities they consider their lives as not worth living. Within a structure of social bias, it is impossible to determine the slippery slope without analyzing the personal and relation attitudes that lead to a decision of assisted suicide.