Assisted Suicide Isn't Really About Terminal Illness

Don't get me wrong: I would object to assisted suicide even if it were ever going to be truly restricted to people with terminal illnesses. But of course, that isn't the goal, and it sure isn't the reality. The Final Exit Network illustrate this--although most of the obtuse or biased media continually miss the point, such as Time's hopelessly incompetent reporting

As I have written, FEN has never advocated restricting assited suicide to the terminally ill. The only major American group that does is The Hemlock Society. It didn't used to, but there was a takeover in which the former crackpot model of advocacy led by Derek Humphry--with suicide machine conventions, etc.--was replaced by the smooth and well tailored professional model led by Barbara Coombs Lee and Kathryn Tucker.

With the professional look came a new euphemistic name--Compassion and Choices--more abundant funding, including polling, focus groups, professional PR, etc. C and C now claims to want to restrict assisted suicide, which its focus groups and polling told them to call "aid in dying." But I have yet to see condemnation from Lee or Tucker about the FEN activities that always went well beyond the terminally ill. Moreover, C and C is a member in good standing of the Federation of the World Right to Die Societies, which as I have noted here, does not have a terminal ill restriction in its advocacy statements, and of which one of the arrestees, Ted Goodwin, is vice president.

A recent NPR report--in which a law enforcement agent but no opponents of assisted suicide appeared, which is now real a trend in media--illustrated the vagueness with which the C and C representatives and others have reacted to the FEN charges. From the report (no link):

[NPR correspondent Kathy]LOHR: Another group, Compassion and Choices, lobbies for physician-assisted suicide laws. President Barbara Coombs Lee says outdated laws criminalizing assisted suicide are to blame for this group's practices.

Ms. BARBARA COOMBS LEE (President, Compassion & Choices): People of the Final Exit Network are, kind of testing the boundaries of what is acceptable and unacceptable in these very vague, broad assisted suicide laws. But there are better ways to make laws, you know, than to wait and see what people do on their own, and then go to a court and a trial and a jury and see if that broke the law or not.

Realize that even if an Oregon style law had been in effect in Georgia, John Celmer's alleged assisted suicide would still have been a crime. Hence, FEN would still have been in business to "serve" those for whom the law did not allow legal access to doctors, since it rejects the terminal illness limitation and John Celmer was not dying. Thus unless the assisted suicide license was open to virtually anyone with other than a transitory desire to die, the FEN's of the world would continue their "counseling," and Coombs Lee's statement is nonsensical.

If Coombs Lee really believed her own advocacy meme, she would condemn FEN for both acting outside of the law and in cases well beyond the situation of terminal illness when nothing else can be done to alleviate suffering, the only category for which she claims "aid in dying" is appropriate in her political agitation about the issue.

Sometimes silence is louder than words.


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