Saturday, October 17, 2009

Smith Works to Deny the Dying of Their Rights.

Anyone who follows this blog knows my position on anti-choice in dying advocates' efforts to conflate depression and suicide with Death with Dignity as legal in Washington and Oregon: Those who elect to use Death with Dignity are lovers of life. Depression is a symptom of their terminal disease and impending death, not the cause. They know death comes and they wish to have a choice in how they die. Treating them for depression will not cure their terminal disease.

Who else but Wesley J. Smith would accuse advocates for Death with Dignity like Compassion & Choices for being uncaring killers of the suicidal? He's at it again, working to use definitions to confuse the issue, in a new article for The Church Report, excerpted in his post at FirstThings today:

Never mind that it is accurate. The dictionary definition of “suicide” is “the act or an instance of taking one’s own life voluntarily and intentionally.” And forget for the moment that fear of stigma can save lives. C & C is blatantly promoting a postmodern word engineering scheme that would sacrifice accurate and precise legal lexicon on the altar of emotional personal narratives.

Lest you think such subterfuge cannot succeed, it already has. Under Washington State’s newly legalize assisted suicide regime, participating doctors are legally required to lie on the death certificate by listing the cause of death as the underlying disease rather than the prescribed suicide drug overdose.

Smith knows that the term suicide is rightly loaded with connotations of mental illness and depression, that we as a society are obligated to help the suicidal in any way we can. But he also knows that Death with Dignity is reserved for those who are dying, not by choice but because they are terminally ill. After the horrors and work of fighting death - because they don't want to die but know they will - those who elect Death with Dignity only wish to choose when they die. They are mentally sound.

This is a very different situation than Smith is willing to acknowledge. Instead, he wishes to preserve the rights of the medical profession, the state, or of God (the church) to determine when and how a terminal patient suffers and dies.

Choice, in other words, is a personal right. Smith is advocating to prevent mentally sound, terminally ill patients from receiving a prescription from their doctor that will allow them to die they way they choose. We should not be fooled by his Smith's efforts to conflate suicide with Death with Dignity.

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