Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 3, 2002
Assisted suicide debunked
Death merchants trade in myths and misinformation
By RENATO GANDIA
"The big truth about it is assisted suicide is cheaper than continuing care for the patient. This is about money,"
- Wesley Smith
The same thing is true if somebody dies earlier than they would have because of morphine. It's an unwanted side effect of a legitimate medical treatment. It's not the same thing as killing, the author said.
Euthanasia or assisted suicide is also not about terminal illness.
"I went through a lot of documents demonstrating what they are actually after is almost death on demand. They talk about incurable illness, they talk about people having the right to die if they have severe and enduring distress," Smith told the WCR.
"The big truth about it is assisted suicide is cheaper than continuing care for the patient. This is about money," said Smith, an attorney and consultant for the International Task Force on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide.
"It only costs U.S. $40 for an assisted suicide. It might cost U.S. $40,000 to care for somebody."
Smith showed the audience a suicide bag, more popularly known as Exit Bag, which can be purchased through the Internet.
This bag, manufactured in Canada, is placed over the head of the person committing an assisted suicide, causing asphyxiation.
In the Netherlands, where euthanasia has been allowed since 1973 and was legalized earlier this year, doctors have gone from killing terminally ill people, chronically ill people who ask for it, to killing depressed people.
"They allow rational suicide on the basis that suffering is suffering. It doesn't matter whether it is emotional or whether it is physical."
Smith is concerned that if society allows people to be killed based on suffering, how can it be limited to terminally ill people since disabled people suffer far longer than them.
In his final talk on Creating a Caste of Disposable People, Smith said the majority of bioethicists are the creators of such a caste.
He said the discussion in bioethics on who is a person and who is a non-person focuses on life's quality, not its equality and sanctity.
"The sanctity and equality of human life is not respected by bioethicists."
Mary Anne Warren, a bioethicist, formulated a criteria on personhood: consciousness, reasoning, self-motivated activities, the capacity to communicate indefinite messages on many possible topics and the presence of self-concept and self-awareness.
Given this criteria, all unborn life, fetuses, infants, people with disabilities, and the comatose, among others, are not considered person.
"They say some of us are non-persons and therefore don't have the right to life and don't have the right to bodily integrity," Smith said.
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