Putting Politics Aside – We have a Republic to Save


A Duty to Die?

By: Anne Marie DiCarlo       June 27, 2024

Not that many years ago, when the ‘Death with Dignity’ movement was in its infancy, the thought of helping another human being end their lives was sold as a solution for those in unbearable pain, for whom death was an inevitable conclusion. It was argued by supporters of the movement that a compassionate society must offer relief to those in such a state of suffering with no hope for recovery because expediting death in such circumstances is indeed humane. One of the pioneers of the movement, which began to flourish in the 1970’s (interestingly, in conjunction with the legalization of abortion) was the Hemlock Society founded by Derek & Anne Humphry. Anne was Derek’s second wife; his first spouse, Jean, had developed cancer and died in 1976, with the assistance of Derek who had provided her with a lethal cocktail. The experience of killing his first wife became the subject of a book called Jean’s Way. The publicity and success of the book became the impetus for the Hemlock Society which brought the couple to the US where they tirelessly worked to change the laws regarding assisted suicide from that point forward. What is less know about this story is that later, Anne too developed cancer, and when she refused to end her life despite the urging of her husband Derek to do so, Derek then abandoned Anne, firing her from the Society and cutting off her medical insurance. At a time when Anne most needed support, love and caring assistance, the man who talked so much about compassion was cold and brutal. Anne found care and assistance through her last days from the hands of Rita Marker, an anti-
euthanasia advocate and ironically, her most vocal opponent. Anne, who had once battled Rita, now relied on Rita during the worst parts of her cancer treatment for transportation, food and a shoulder to cry on. When Anne passed away, Rita was at her
Why take this walk down memory lane?
In order to evaluate an action taken, one must understand the starting point. With respect to euthanasia, it is especially critical given the ever-shifting goal posts.  As a case study, Canada was much quicker to embrace the euthanasia ideology than the US. This is not surprising given that the secularization of Canadian society has progressed at a much more rapid pace than the US, although we are most certainly heading in the same direction.  Canadians allowed euthanasia only for the terminally ill, at first. Later, it was extended to those who were in a ‘vegetative state’ with no hope of recovery. Subsequently, the elderly who developed dementia and Alzheimer’s were also deemed ‘better off dead’. In March of 2024, legislation was introduced to include in the Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) program people suffering from mental illness. Fortunately, push back has delayed the implementation of this goal. The Canadian government, however, is determined to have their way. Following their initial defeat, new legislation was re-introduced proposing to extend the temporary exclusion of eligibility in MAID for persons suffering solely from a mental illness for three years. According to government officials, this extension would “provide more time for provinces and territories to prepare their health care systems, including the development of policies, standards, guidance and additional resources to assess and provide MAID in situations where a person’s sole underlying medical condition is a mental illness. It would also provide practitioners with more time to participate in training and become familiar with available supports, guidelines and standards.”
Today in Canada, access to the MAID program is routinely offered to the sick and dying.  MAiD has always trumpeted compassion and whispered of cost. The Canadian government, which funds the one-payer national health care system, quickly realized that significant cost savings were achieved by expediting the disposal of the dying, sick and elderly who represent a greater drain on the health system. What they also realized is that the system also benefits by reducing the number of poor and disabled who need care. Stories abound of the disabled who are denied pain medications, access to wheelchairs, prosthetics and transportation, but are offered coverage for life-ending drugs.
Wesley Smith, a long-time anti-euthanasia advocate has said that “such proposals are merely stations on the way to creating a crassly abandoning society in which the weakest and most vulnerable among us become a killable caste”. He is exactly right.
The question then becomes, how does one get the majority in a society to accept this?  It is done by creating the myth of a duty to die.
On March 30, British homosexual Matthew Parris, himself a reputedly “nice” person, has argued that the cost of keeping the elderly alive means we should consider killing them.  In fact, says Parris, we can’t afford not to.  His piece in The Times is titled, “We can’t afford a taboo on assisted dying.” He frames the sanctity of life as a sort of superstition, appealing to the progressive zeal for busting outmoded taboos – such as the essential value of human life. How stunning and brave.  This is when the choice to die becomes the obligation to die. Welcome to the world of Logan’s Run.  Is the US poised on the brink of the abyss?
The New York Sun recently ran an article on a proposed bill to permit federal funding for assisted suicide. Democrat Members of Congress have introduced a HR 8137 to reverse the 1997 Assisted Suicide Funding Restriction Act and replace it with the Patient Access to End of Life Care Act. The language of the bill is not yet available, but the new act would permit federal funding for assisted suicide.  For nearly 30 years — since Oregon became the first state to legalize physician-assisted death — Congress has prevented federal funding such as Medicare from being used by patients to pay for the practice. A bill proposed by Democratic lawmakers seeks to change that.  In 1997, Congress passed the Assisted Suicide Funding Restriction Act, which prohibits using federal funds to provide for any health care services that assisted in someone’s death, including “assisting in the suicide, euthanasia, or mercy killing of any individual.”  In order to circumvent the legislation, the sponsors of the bill, Democratic Representatives Brittany Pettersen and Scott Peters released a draft discussion which states: “Medical aid-in-dying, an authorized medical practice, is not euthanasia, mercy killing, or assisted suicide.”  In other words, the bill’s sponsors intend to get funding approved for assisted suicide by redefining assisted suicide as not being assisted suicide.  The threat is real and those on the other side are tireless advocates.
We need to be equally vigilant in safeguarding the dignity and sanctity of every life, at every stage, from conception to natural death.  Anything less is not compassion and not humane.

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