Thursday, August 5, 2010

Legalizing assisted suicide will not prevent murder-suicide

I was looking through my past emails and noticed that a letter that I wrote to the New Haven Advocate in Connecticut was printed on July 13. This letter was a response to an article entitled: Hot Topic: End of Life Debate. The following is a reprint of my letter.

Letters from our readers

I am the Executive Director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, and Chair for the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, International. Your article (“Hot Topic: End of Life Debate,” June 17) reports on the claim of assisted suicide lobbyists that legalizing assisted suicide will prevent murder-suicides.

According to Donna Cohen, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, the typical murder-suicide case involves a depressed controlling husband who shoots his ill wife. “The wife does not want to die and is often shot in her sleep. If she was awake at the time, there are usually signs that she tried to defend herself.”

The proponents’ claim ignores this important fact: The typical wife in these cases does not “choose” her death. Rather, she is a victim of spousal abuse.

Legal assisted suicide, regardless, fails to guarantee “choice.” These laws instead empower doctors, family members and new “best friends” to legally pressure others to take their own lives, or even to directly cause the deaths.

In Canada, a bill that would have legalized assisted-suicide was just overwhelmingly defeated in our Parliament, 228 to 59. When I spoke with lawmakers who voted against the bill, many voiced the opinion that our government’s efforts should be focused on helping our citizens live with dignity, rather than developing strategies to get them out of the way.

Alex Schadenberg
London, Ontario, Canada

Link to the letter:

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