Nicholas Goldberg, who is a columnist with the LA Times, wrote a column last year calling for the expansion of California’s assisted suicide law to include people Alzheimer’s.
Isn’t assisted suicide about “autonomous” “free choice” decisions that are made by people who are able to “consent”?
Well, other than attacking people who oppose assisted suicide, Goldberg wrote:
I believe that we should make more people eligible to participate in what’s come to be known as “aid in dying,” if they choose to. Alzheimer’s patients and others facing dementia seem like an obvious place to start, although policymakers also could consider people with certain degenerative diseases or those living in chronic pain, even if they aren’t within six months of death.
Goldberg doesn’t recognize that people with Alzheimer’s/dementia have a questionable ability to consent. Goldberg, who was reacting to the tragic death of his mother, isn’t concerned that assisted suicide activists question imposing death on people with Alzheimer’s.
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Yet expanding the law to include Alzheimer’s patients and other dementia sufferers is not yet on the table in most places. Even many advocates of aid-in-dying oppose it, including Monning and Kim Callinan, president of the organization Compassion and Choices.
“One of the threshold qualifiers in our law was that the patient must be mentally competent and must be the decision maker,” says [state Sen. Bill] Monning. “Not a family member or a loved one or medical advisor. The conscious choice of the patient to me is so critical to the efficacy and morality of this bill.”
Callinan notes that many doctors might be unwilling to administer life-ending drugs to patients who are not competent to clearly state that it is their preference.
Still, these are problems that can and must be worked out over time.
Working out these problems over time or ignoring the problems?
The truth is that choice, autonomy, and consent are only phrases that matter when assisted suicide legalization is being promoted.
For instance, Canada’s Justice Minister [David Lametti] has advocated extending euthanasia to people with mental illness and in the Netherlands and Belgium, euthanasia for people with mental illness and dementia/Alzheimer’s is already permitted.
Really, the only clear line in the sand is to care for people and not kill them.
Once you allow killing, the only remaining question is who will be killed and how it is done.