South Dakota will see another barrage of ballot measures next election, including one to legalize assisted suicide and euthanasia.
The measure plays on the fears that loved ones may spend their final years in pain. The solution of a quick, “dignified” death is promoted by suicide proponents as patient choice but is actually a recipe for the abuse of vulnerable populations like the elderly and disabled.
The proponents say, “why not make it legal for a doctor to prescribe drugs to kill a chronically or terminally ill patient, after all, it doesn’t hurt anyone.”
See, I don’t agree with that. I think the reality is it hurts lots of people. I think whenever you devalue life, you hurt everyone.
Our debate won’t be just about allowing a licensed doctor to legally assist in the death of those who are chronically or terminally ill. It will be about all of us. It will be whether South Dakotans will authorize laws that allow killing in our state.
The proposed measure won’t just make suicide legal. It will do more. It will implicate all of us in the act of killing. It’s not just the handful of people it will take for the sick person to take his or her life. The proposal is for “all of us,” all 850,000 residents of South Dakota. By passing a law that enables the taking of a human life, we are all implicated in the act.
The idea that assisting a suicide shows compassion is misguided. Suicide eliminates the person, and results in suffering for those left behind—grieving families and friends, and other vulnerable people who may be influenced by this event to see death as an escape.
True compassion doesn’t put lethal drugs in a sick person’s hands and abandon them to suicidal impulses or to self-serving motives of others who may want them dead. True compassion helps vulnerable people with their problems, instead of treating them as the problem.
If you oppose legalizing suicide, the simplest solution is not to sign the petition to put the measure on the ballot. That will kill the measure, which I believe is much better than killing people.
Next week I’ll share why I believe there’s nothing dignified about suicide.