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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Learnings from Assisted Suicide in Oregon

The National Post has an article about the assisted suicide law in Oregon, newsworthy the article asserts because Canada may look to how the law works in Oregon as they deliberate their own law.

Go and read it for background on the law, its supposed safeguards, and the rate at which it is used.

Here are a few quotes (admittedly removed from context, but not to deceive you), then some brief comments.
“Having this on the books has given people hope and choice,” George Eighmey, former executive director of Compassion and Choices, said in an online interview. “Just having it on the books has given thousands of terminally ill people comfort.”
And while the Catholic Church was a major opponent to the Death With Dignity Act, the Archdiocese of Portland no longer speaks about the issue.
And acceptance has climbed among patients, even as population slowed with the poor economy.
Just having it on the books also has several other effects. One is, people will be pressured in one way or another to do it. Just having it on the books makes it an option. It makes it a thing to think about, to consider, to do, even if one would rather not.

Acceptance has climbed among patients -- and it is not surprising. As they face greater and greater financial hardships because of the economy, more and more would want to end it all. That last sentence in the quote is actually pretty creepy. It's worded as if a tanking economy should have the opposite effect, and the writer is surprised to find a correlation between the number of people who kill themselves and widespread financial hardship. Yet, it notes that financial motivations may be at work. It's cheaper to die. Oh, and it's comforting to those poor folks that their lives have a dollar value and they can save themselves and their loved ones money in these hard times by dying.

Another effect of the law being on the books is the encroaching complacency of those who believe that killing innocent people is always wrong. That destroying the autonomous subject (or permitting, facilitating, encouraging his self-destruction) is not a good way to preserve his autonomy. That there's an essential and mutually exclusive separation between caring and killing. But opponents are lulled into dullness. Witness the Catholic archdiocese of Portland, to whom all I have to say: For shame.

I have to hand it to the writer for getting a range of perspectives, but it does overall paint the picture as fairly rosy for the Oregon law: It's working, it's popular, more Oregonians are killing themselves than ever, see how successful the law is! Canada should do it, too! But, that's par for the course for mainstream media on this issue.

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