Tuesday, July 12, 2011

At the Bottom of the Slippery Slope: where euthanasia meets organ harvesting

By Wesley Smith
The Weekly Standard - July 4, 2011, Vol. 16, No. 40

In 1992, my friend Frances committed suicide on her 76th birthday. Frances was not terminally ill. She had been diagnosed with treatable leukemia and needed a hip replacement. Mostly, though, she was depressed by family issues and profoundly disappointed at where her life had taken her.

Something seemed very off to me about Frances’s suicide. So I asked the executor of her estate to send me the “suicide file” kept by the quintessentially organized Frances and was horrified to learn from it that she had been an avid reader of the (now defunct) Hemlock Quarterly, published by the aptly named Hemlock Society (which was since merged into the assisted-suicide advocacy group, Compassion and Choices). The HQ taught readers about the best drugs with which to overdose and gave precise instructions on how to ensure death with a plastic bag​—​the exact method used by Frances to end her life.

I was furious. Frances’s friends had known she was periodically suicidal and had intervened to help her through the darkness. The Hemlock Society had pushed Frances in the other direction, giving her moral permission to kill herself and then teaching her how to do it. This prompted the first of the many articles I have written over the years against assisted-suicide advocacy. It appeared in the June 28, 1993, Newsweek and warned about the cliff towards which assisted suicide advocacy was steering our society:
We don’t get to the Brave New World in one giant leap. Rather, the descent to depravity is reached by small steps. First, suicide is promoted as a virtue. Vulnerable people like Frances become early casualties. Then follows mercy killing of the terminally ill. From there, it’s a hop, skip, and a jump to killing people who don’t have a good “quality” of life, perhaps with the prospect of organ harvesting thrown in as a plum to society.
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