Key Points for Debating Assisted Suicide
- A request for assisted suicide is typically a cry for help. It is in reality a call for counseling, assistance, and positive alternatives as solutions for very real problems.
- Suicidal intent is typically transient. Of those who attempt suicide but are stopped, less than 4 percent go on to kill themselves in the next five years; less than 11 percent will commit suicide over the next 35 years.
- Terminally ill patients who desire death are depressed, and depression is treatable in those with a terminal illness. In one study, of the 24 percent of terminally ill patients who desired death, all had clinical depression.
- Pain is controllable. Modern medicine has the ability to control pain. A person who seeks to kill him or herself to avoid pain does not need legalized assisted suicide, but a doctor better trained in alleviating pain.
- In the U.S. legalizing “voluntary” active euthanasia (assisting suicide) means legalizing non-voluntary euthanasia. State courts have ruled time and again that if competent people have a right, the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment requires that incompetent people be given the same “right.” This means that a third party would have to be empowered to decide (allegedly on an incompetent person’s “behalf”) that this individual would be “better off dead” and should be killed. Indeed, the Ninth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals declared that “surrogates” must be able to choose lethal prescriptions for incompetent people. This poses an unacceptable risk to children and others with disabilities who have never asked to die.
- In the Netherlands, legalizing voluntary assisted suicide for those with a terminal illness has spread to include non-voluntary euthanasia for many who have no terminal illness. Half the killings in the Netherlands are now non-voluntary, and the problems for which death is now the legal “solution” include such things as mental illness, permanent disability, and even simple old-age.
- You don’t solve problems by getting rid of the people to whom the problems happen. The more difficult but humane solution to human suffering is to address the problem.
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