Marlowe's Shade

Monday, September 19, 2005

Right-To-Die Group Exploits Katrina Tragedy

In a recent press release, Barbara Coombs Lee the CEO of Right-to-die group Compassion & Choices took advantage of reports of doctors euthanizing patients to position her group's physician assisted suicide agenda.

Opponents of assisted suicide were swift to respond:

In response to Ms. Coombs Lee's statement, Marilyn Golden of the Disability Rights, Education and Defense Fund noted, "The circumstances of the New Orleans hurricane were so unusual that it is completely inappropriate to draw any general policy conclusions (about assisted suicide) from what happened."

The so called "Death with Dignity Act" that has so far failed overwhelmingly in California, and in 49 other states in which assisted suicide advocates have presented it, is not an acceptable or ethical response to the victims of a natural disaster -- especially the victims who are uninsured for health care.

If assisted suicide advocates like Barbara Coombs Lee and others were to legalize state sanctioned assisted suicide, one can imagine the circumstances that might follow. "Would assisted suicide have made it better on the Gulf Coast?" asks Dr. Rex Greene M.D. Instead of planning for evacuation procedures that accommodate the needs of people with disabilities or illness "would disaster relief have included the passing out of lethal overdoses to terminally ill patients who couldn't be evacuated?"

For me the most infuriating aspect of this press release is the disingenuousness of Coombs Lee"s organization. Compassion & Choices consistantly states that it opposes euthanasia and supports only physician assisted suicide. Yet it is a merger of two right-to-die groups which were strong advocates of euthanasia. For example Dr Ron Cranford served with both the Hemlock Club and Choices in Dying, and his advocacy of euthanasia is open.

But public support for the right-to-die agenda evaporates when it is linked with European-style euthanasia, so Compassion & Choices public policy reflects what it thinks will get physician assisted suicide laws on the books. Based on the European experience, the slippery slope will take care of the rest.

Speaking at a conference this weekend, bioethicist and disability rights advocate Stuart Ferst highlighted the concerns of the sick and disabled regarding the right-to-die agenda:

"They fear that euthanasia is the first step toward a society that will kill disabled people against their will," Ferst said. "There is a basic, implicit assumption that reasons life should be ended either if a person is in terrible pain, hates their life or is at the end of their productivity. People with disabilities fear that you can say that for someone who is disabled, whether they're six months old … or 80 years old.

"And because of the modern history of the way we treat people with disabilities, their fears are not irrational by any stretch of the imagination." He noted that it's only been in the past 40 years that the disabled have been brought out of institutions and become part of mainstream society — and despite legal mandates, Americans with disabilities still are discriminated against.

The right-to-die movement has again demonstrated its inherent lack of integrity in using this tragedy to promote its dishonest agenda.
papijoe 6:38 AM