Tom Blackwell’s article reporting that 67% of Canadians poll in favor of assisted suicide is déjà vu all over again for readers in the United States. The superficial and often misleading poll questions on this topic produced similar statistics in a number of U.S. states over the years.
One superficial assumption is that there’s no meaningful distinction between suicide and assisted suicide — most people know that it could tip the scales if your doctor and family members agreed that it was time for you to go.
Another factor is that the phrase “physician-assisted suicide” implies that a trust-worthy doctor is the only assistant. However, the language of assisted suicide laws actually immunizes all potential suicide assistants from any type of liability, not just doctors.
And, finally, there’s a vague sense of comfort that safeguards can ensure that the process is voluntary. But even if the relatively flimsy protections leading up to the lethal prescription are assumed to be ironclad, once the lethal drugs are in ones home, the law does nothing to ensure that they are taken voluntarily.
All in all, a closer look at this complex issue raises so many doubts that only two of our 50 states have legalized the practice by ballot referendum, and no bill has made it through the scrutiny of a state legislature, even after 100 attempts.
Diane Coleman, president/CEO Not Dead Yet, Rochester, N.Y.