Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Physician Assisted Suicide - Once Again Conservatives Argue for Government Control of Private Lives

Betraying Their Positions and Their Principles

The Dismal Political Economist has always felt that the way to judge a real Conservative from a faux  Conservative was to determine the person’s position on physician assisted suicide.  The decision of a person who is terminally ill to end his or her life, with the voluntary and willing assistance of a qualified person from the medical community would seem to be the perfect test case.  A person who believes that government should not interfere with the private lives of its citizens would seem to be the strongest advocate of legally allowing this practice.

So it should come as no surprise to anyone that Conservatives do not live up to their principles and oppose allowing an individual to control his or life in this way.  Instead they argue for government as the decision maker, the one who makes the decision for the individual.  Case in point is this opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal.

In the face of such irrefutable evidence that safeguards to protect people from the involuntary withholding of life-sustaining treatment are not working, disability advocates see assisted suicide and the broken, profit-driven health-care system as a deadly mix. Today's risks of mistake, conflict of interest, coercion and abuse are too great.

Wow, irrefutable evidence, that’s pretty powerful stuff.  Let’ see what that is.

Proponents of assisted suicide claim that 14 years of data from Oregon—which legalized assisted suicide for people who are predicted to die in six months, with purported safeguards to ensure that it's voluntary—prove that such mistakes or abuses do not materialize. 

Uh, wait a minute, that says there is no evidence from Oregon, a state that has a long experience with assisted suicide.  Oh, but the fact is according the these proponents of ‘government decides, you don’t’ is that there must be abuses they just don’t show up in the data.

Oregon's annual reports tell us very little. For one thing, assisted-suicide laws like the one in Oregon and the one proposed for Massachusetts lack teeth. Doctors who fail to report giving a lethal prescription face no penalty. The state does not talk to doctors who denied a request to prescribe lethal drugs in order to find out why, or to families to learn why the person requested assisted suicide and what happened after the lethal drugs were obtained. No form of noncompliance with the law's relatively flimsy safeguards is monitored or investigated.

So like all ‘know-it-alls’ the authors here argue that the evidence is irrefutable because it does not exist. 

At the end of the life of a terminally ill person a decision must be made as to whether or not to continue that life.  Conservatives want government to make that decision.  The rest of us feel that these decisions are best made by the individual in consultation with their family, their clergy and their health care support system.  Now who’s the Conservative?

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