Washington Advocate for Assisted Suicide Launches Legalization Campaign

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

Washington Advocate for Assisted Suicide Launches Legalization Campaign Email this article
Printer friendly page

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
December 9,

Olympia, WA (LifeNews.com) — Former Washington Governor Booth Gardner has fired the opening salvo in a new campaign to approve a state law making it the second to legalize assisted suicide. LifeNews.com profiled his efforts back in October and the New York Times granted him a recent interview to promote his cause.

Gardner, a Democrat, was Washington’s governor from 1985 to 1993, and he has said he will head up a ballot initiative and an extensive campaign for a measure legalizing assisted suicide.

The measure would be based on a bill that Sen. Pat Thibaudeau, a Democrat from Seattle, introduced in the state legislature.

The legislation would have allowed doctors to prescribe lethal doses of drugs to kill terminally ill patients. Two physicians would have to agree that the patient had fewer than six months to live and was mentally capable of making the decision.

Gardner framed the debate in terms of wanting to control his own life — especially at its end.

Ironically, just months ago Gardner underwent deep brain surgery for Parkinson’s Disease, which could possibly be used to help incapacitated patients like Terri Schiavo.

However, he said that the law wouldn’t go far enough for him because he wants patients like him who are not terminally ill to be able to kill themselves with the help of a physician.

But, bioethics watchdog Wesley J. Smith says the former governor is ignoring the dangers and problems associated with allowing doctors to have a role in killing their patients.

"The potential for–and abuses that are actually happening–from legalized assisted suicide are well documented," Smith says.

"But advocates like Gardner willfully ignore that part of the story. Bluntly stated, they want what they want for themselves and don’t care who gets hurt," he adds.

Smith worries that Gardner described the kind of slippery slope that assisted suicide leads to — with a focus on killing some patients initially and more down the road.

"That is the agenda and good for Gardner for being candid," he said. "If we are to debate this as a society, it should be from that truth."