Brittany Maynard’s Assisted Suicide Corrupts Medicine: Killing Isn’t Medical Treatment

Opinion   |   Wesley J. Smith   |   Nov 7, 2014   |   10:39AM   |   Washington, DC

Good grief. Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen has written a ridiculous column about Brittany Maynard, in which he replaces argument with insult and makes naked emotional assertions in place of principled reasoning.

Cohen supports Maynard for her “courage” in killing herself–so harmful!–while swallowing the tranhumanist fantasy eschatology that science will defeat death. From, “The Courage of Brittany Maynard:”

The death of death is fast approaching — fast being a matter of decades or maybe more, but sooner or later science will kill the Grim Reaper and future generations will look back on us and wonder what it was like knowing the end was always coming.

brittanymaynard7And people make fun of the faithful for having hope for eternal life.

Cohen then makes outright insulting arguments against religious communities and the medical establishment that oppose assisted suicide.

First, he claims religious opponents of assisted suicide selfishly want to retain what is left of their diminishing influence:

Death has always been in the domain of religion — the portal to the afterlife promised, or threatened, to us all. Little by little, science and modernity in general have circumscribed religion’s domain, so religion is making its last stand, so to speak, by telling us when we can make ours. As with Maynard, lots of us are not accepting this.

No, resisting assisted suicide isn’t about power, but love.

The medical community are only trying to assuage their guilt for past sins, Cohen says,–even bringing up the Holocaust!

As for physicians, they not only reaffirm the mantra that they are healers, but they are haunted by the times when they were not. In Germany, many of them cooperated with the Nazis in the administration of death, not just in the Holocaust, but even earlier in the sotto voce euthanasia programs that killed the mentally or physically ill.

In the United States, some health professionals participated in programs to sterilize the so-called mentally feeble and, of course, in Alabama black sharecroppers were tricked into enlisting in a hideous medical experiment in which 28 of them were allowed to die, untreated, of syphilis.

No. Killing isn’t a medical treatment. Assisted suicide corrupts medical ethics. Caring for patients–healing, palliating, educating, supporting–is the job of physicians. Hello? Hippocratic Oath!

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The many and varied reasons for opposing assisted suicide go utterly unexplored by Cohen; from the threat doctor-prescribed death poses to the vulnerable, to the reality that assisted suicide could be used to control medical costs, to the inevitability of state-sanctioned suicide metastasizing beyond the terminally ill, as it already has in Belgium, Netherlands, and Switzerland’s systems of near death on demand.

And then he gets to the nub of his thinking: It’s all about him, and he doesn’t who else gets hurt:

When death dies, so too will heaven and hell — and the comforting myth of eternal equality. Before that happens, I will die. This is certain and I don’t like it one bit — and I don’t like, either, that future generations will look back and wonder what it was like to live with death, not lots of it, but the certainty of it.

But as long as it is going to happen, I want my say over it. I want the same control over the end that I have had over what came before it. This is all that Brittany Maynard wanted. I salute her common sense and a courage that, in a fearful time to come, I may well envy.

Such me, me-I,I thinking is destroying Western civilization. Principle and rational discourse is being swept away by solipsism and emotionalism

What an odd column: Science will kill death, but until it does, we need the “courage” to control it through suicide

But if suicide is courage, doesn’t that mean fighting until the end of living in as much comfort as possible until the end is cowardice?

Cohen isn’t promoting courage. He is pushing surrender and abandonment. 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.