NRL News

Forced to Lie About Assisted Suicide

by | Jun 1, 2018

By Wesley J. Smith

The assisted-suicide movement often lies, prevaricates, spins, word engineers, and obfuscates in its advocacy memes.

Lying in debates is one thing. But legally forcing doctors and public officials to participate in these tactics in their official capacities is quite another. Yet, that is what many assisted-suicide laws and legislative proposals do.

Take for example, lying on death certificates. Several state laws legalizing assisted suicide force MDs who assist suicides to falsify death certificates — an important public document needed for the accrual of accurate vital statistics — that the cause of death was the underlying disease and not a self-administered drug overdose.

Now, a Minnesota legalization proposal goes there. From SF 1572:

Subd. 17. Death certificate. Unless otherwise prohibited by law, the attending physician may sign the qualified patient’s death certificate. The qualified patient’s underlying terminal illness shall be listed as the cause of death.

Think about this: MDs compelled by law to lie in order to prevent transparency, inhibit oversight, and thwart accurate independent scientific studies of the deadly practice.

It gets worse. The bill would specifically legalize assisted suicide — doctors prescribing drugs for the purpose of a patient taking them to cause an overdose death — but claims mendaciously it isn’t legalizing assisted suicide:

Subd. 16. Medical aid in dying.

(a) Nothing in this section authorizes a physician or any other person to end a patient’s life by lethal injection, mercy killing, assisting a suicide, or any other active euthanasia.

(b) Any action taken according to this section does not constitute causing or assisting another person to commit suicide.

But that is exactly what it does!

And to make sure the mendacity sticks, the term “assisted suicide” is banned from use in public communications, documents, and pronouncement:

c) No report of a public agency may refer to the practice of obtaining and self-administering life-ending medication to end a qualified patient’s life as suicide or assisted suicide, and shall refer to the practice as medical aid in dying.

This is utterly nonsensical. As a recent AMA Ethics report on the issue noted (my emphasis): “The term ‘physician assisted suicide’ describes the practice with the greatest precision.”

Forcing MDs and public employees to lie and use euphemistic language isn’t just a matter of semantics. It destroys integrity in governance and undermines trust in public institutions. And, it disrespects democratic deliberation.

Assisted-suicide legalization turns thousands of years of medical ethics on its head. It has the potential to shatter family life. By definition, it results in the premature deaths of thousands of people — some of whom might not have died from their diagnosed illness, which sometimes happens. And, it gives the imprimatur of the state to some suicides, which has the potential to increase suicide ideation as it makes suicide prevention more equivocal.

If it is so important to do all that, then call a thing what it is! If you can’t, then stop pushing the agenda.

Editor’s note. Wesley’s great posts appear at National Review Online and are reposted with the author’s permission.

Categories: Assisted Suicide