The San Francisco Chronicle columnist, Debra J. Saunders (my wife), has a really good piece out about the Brittany Maynard tragedy.
The Hemlock Society Compassion and Choices wants to exploit her assisted suicide as a crow bar to pry open California and other states to legalizing doctor-prescribed death. That would be profoundly unwise, writes Debra. From, “Maynard’s Storybook Death Shouldn’t Add Support for Assisted Suicide:”
If Maynard died with dignity, then does that mean that others who do not choose to choreograph their death lack dignity? There’s no getting around the language advocates have chosen — “Death with Dignity” suggests that there is something undignified about holding onto life. You’re Superman and ready to die with a smile — that’s dignity. Or you are a pathetic hanger-on.
That’s certainly the strong implication. Think about it: If Maynard had decided to live, cared for by hospice, nobody would have ever heard her name. Compassion and Choices certainly wouldn’t have been touting her “courage.”
Debra notes that the issue is bigger and more far-reaching than the death of any individual, no matter how poignant the circumstances:
There are no guarantees with that approach. But it does mean that the medical system isn’t upended so physicians migrate from healers to end-of-life concierges. Most important of all: The focus of medical care in California would remain on treating disease and relieving suffering. The state would not embrace the notion that wanting to live is undignified, or that sick people should prefer to die than endure seizures or loss of motor control.
I certainly know of people struggling with terminal disease who have been devastated by assisted suicide’s advocacy meme that their lives are not worth protecting. More on that in awhile.
When families lose a young person, they go crazy with grief; any distraction, even anger, can be welcome. I fully appreciate how a young woman would want to find a cause to give meaning to her end. But if Maynard’s death helps to change California law, be clear that the brave new order will spell abandonment for lonely vulnerable people. These people need friends and family who make them feel wanted, not undignified.
Please read the whole thing. It is an oasis in the desert wind of emotionalism and suicide boosterism to which we have been subjected for the last few weeks.
LifeNews.com Note: Wesley J. Smith, J.D., is a special consultant to the Center for Bioethics and Culture and a bioethics attorney who blogs at Human Exeptionalism.