Friday, August 17, 2012

Illustrating Another Test of Convictions That Conservatives Fail – Physician Assisted Suicide is Confirmation of the Supremacy of the Individual

But Conservatives Want Government, Not the Individual in Charge of People’s Life (and Death)

Probably the most reasonable test for anyone who claims to be a Conservative is whether or not that person supports the right of individuals to end their own lives when they have terminal diseases and face their remaining time in pain, suffering and degradation.  Surely anyone who thinks that government should have a minimal role in private lives would support the right of individuals who are suffering from horrible illnesses to end their lives with dignity and honor.

But of course almost all Conservatives are not really conservative.  They want government to control this aspect of the human life, they want government to prohibit an individual from receiving support and help to end their lives when the end is coming anyway, and usually in a horrible and painful manner.

Critics of such laws feared that poor people would be pressured to kill themselves because they or their families could not afford end-of-life care. 

and in other cases the issue was religious, with religious leaders who oppose the policy because of their religious beliefs attempting to use government to impose their religion on those who are not members of that religion.

The laws do not simply allow a person to trot down to the local drug store and purchase end of life medicine. There are very strict controls.

Leah Nash for The New York Times
Dr. Richard Wesley, who received a 
diagnosis of Lou Gehrig’s disease in 
2008, at home with his wife and two of his children.

In both Oregon and Washington, the law is rigorous in determining who is eligible to receive the drugs. Two physicians must confirm that a patient has six months or less to live. And the request for the drugs must be made twice, 15 days apart, before they are handed out. They must be self-administered, which creates a special challenge for people with A.L.S.

And it turns out that assisted suicide has helped a great many individuals exit life in a painless manner.

In Oregon, the number of men and women who have died that way is roughly equal, and their median age is 71. Eighty-one percent have had cancer, and 7 percent A.L.S., which is also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. The rest have had a variety of illnesses, including lung and heart disease. The statistics are similar in Washington.

There were fears of a “slippery slope” — that the law would gradually expand to include those with nonterminal illnesses or that it would permit physicians to take a more active role in the dying process itself. But those worries have not been borne out, experts say.

So will those who oppose the right to control one’s own life and death apologize, admit they were wrong and move on?  Sorry, not in this lifetime even if that lifetime is not ended prematurely. 

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