Wednesday, November 5, 2008

In Washington State, The Doctors of Death Await

Well, Washington state’s ballot initiative allowing assisted suicide, I-1000, passed by a wide margin yesterday.

What that means is that we now have two states in the US (Washington and Oregon) that think it’s ok to allow assisted suicide.

First and foremost this will mean, automatically and unequivocally, that people considering suicide now have the imprimatur of the state to be helped in killing themselves.

Don’t worry, advocates say, it’s nothing nefarious, just the state being compassionate towards those who are suffering and who want to maintain their “autonomy” to end their lives at a time of their choosing.

And, of course, don’t worry, there’s no slippery slope.

Sounds almost reasonable.

But here’s what the pro-death crowd don’t want you to know:

This is how things started in the Netherlands – compassion, dignity, and all. No slippery slope? In a very few short years, the Netherlands moved from euthanasia for a very, very few under very specific circumstances, to now being a country where euthanasia and assisted suicide are available for almost everyone for almost any reason.

Many elderly Dutch people now fear being admitted to a hospital, and with good reason: Holland now routinely euthanizes people who never even asked for euthanasia or wanted to die. Many elderly people in the Netherlands feel that their culture of death puts a lot of pressure on them to assume a duty to die - whether they want to or not.

Here’s another thing the pro-death crowd doesn’t want to get out:

In Oregon, there are widespread gaps in accountability. For example:

Records of assisted suicides are officially destroyed annually.

The only accountability in reporting and tracking assisted suicides comes from the very doctors who are complicit in the death-making. 

On this second point, it seems to me that trusting doctors to faithfully report each and every assisted suicide, or where such procedures went wrong or are abused, is tantamount to having required guards at Birkenau to alert their superiors when murdering Jews didn’t proceed too smoothly.

Too harsh?

If you think so, please answer this question:

Why, in the first place, are physicians ever involved in killing people?


Sarah said...

And the accountability in the Washington act is even less than in Oregon. Not only do doctors not report assisted suicide, the legislation requires them to "sign the patient's death certificate which shall list the underlying terminal death as the cause of death" (emphasis mine) - s. 4(l)(ii)(B)(2)of I-1000.

Read it for yourself at

No slippery slope indeed.

Dr. Mark Mostert said...

Sarah, thanks for your comments. Couldn't agree with you more.