Thursday, October 15, 2009

"Endorsing Suicides": The Assisted Suicide Debate in Australia.

Lest you think the US, Canada and Britain are the only countries struggling over the issue of assisted suicide, read up at CardinalPole for a conservative update of what's going on in Australia.

He is responding to an address given at The Sydney Institute and subsequently published in The Sydney Morning Herald by Ms. Susan Varga, an Australian novelist. Varga uses the address to cite the case of her mother's suicide as an argument for legalized assisted suicide (or euthanasia).

I may personally agree with Varga, that the choice to end one's life need not result from a mental condition that can be cured with drugs and counseling, but the commenters at CardinalPole, Varga, and indeed the blogger himself, are conflating terms. Depending on how the law in Australia is ultimately designed, those who rightfully choose to end their lives will be left with only violent means, as is the case in the US where Death with Dignity has been legalized.

I include the post not only because it shows the kinds of discussions that are occurring around the globe, but because it demonstrates this conflation of terms.

As well a number of points come out of this post that I have been all over of late regarding the discourse in the US:

*Death with Dignity, as legalized in Oregon and Washington, requires a mentally sounds, terminally ill patent to self-administer lethal drugs. The laws have safeguards to prevent violation. They have nothing to do with assisted suicide as the term is used by opponents.

*Pro-life groups are working to give more of their power, voice, money and resources to the second leg of their four-legged platform, "assisted suicide" - stem cell research, cloning and abortion being the other three legs. By muddying the language surrounding the issue, by claiming "slippery slope" arguments, by opposing the government and working to limit access, they are playing by the same book they have since 1973 and the legalization of abortion under Roe v Wade.

*Opponents to the legalization of Death with Dignity continue to confuse depression as a cause for suicide and depression as a cause for utilizing Death with Dignity. DwD users are already dying. In their cases, depression is a symptom

*"Pro-life" groups oppose choice in dying because it betrays what they call the sanctity of life, or rather, God's control over suffering. We have no choice, they say, an echo of their opposition to women who worked for choice in reproduction. Same argument, same play book, different end of the life spectrum.

To be clear, I strongly support treatment for depression. But depression is not an issue with regards to Death with Dignity in the US. I don't buy what many "pro-life" groups call the "culture of death," nor arguments that erosion of one "pro-life" issue will lead to a "slippery slope." Choice is a right, not a slippery slope.

Labels: , , , , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home