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After my blog post about my dad's death (below), in which I spewed hate against activists and politicians who oppose doctor-assisted suicide, people informed me that according to polls 49% of the citizens of my country disagree with me.

I have to call bullshit on the 49%.

The first time I have even spoken to someone who confessed to me an anti-doctor-assisted suicide position was this week, when a creationist reporter called me at home to ask why I preferred her dead. She and her husband are both activists against doctor-assisted suicide. (I confirmed to her that the world would be better off without her.)

I have no quarrel with anyone who has a different opinion on this or any other topic because no one should be judged by their thoughts alone. But if you are an activist against the right to die with dignity, you are an accomplice in the torture of countless senior citizens, including both of my parents. From a morality standpoint that puts you in the same category as pedophiles and terrorists. Keep in mind that even terrorists have a noble (to them) reason for their actions. (Hint: God)

I got criticism for my uncivilized writing on this topic. My uncensored words were shocking, and I realize that. But this is a topic that pits emotion against emotion. It's not strictly an economic decision. It's about how people feel. I defend my honest display of feelings because it is important information in this debate. I want the activists to know that I don't just disagree with them in some intellectual sense. They should know that I consider them as immoral as pedophiles and terrorists. And if the comments on the Internet tell us anything it is that I am not alone. That knowledge is a useful addition to the debate. People need to know that if they are accomplices in the torture of my family members or me, I don't merely disagree with their position on the topic; I wish them a painful death. No one sheds a tear when a terrorist accidentally blows himself up in his bomb-making factory.

Just to be clear, I don't favor killing people for political activism. I'm just saying I wouldn't shed a tear if an activist opposed to doctor-assisted-suicide died a painful death. I'm not proud of that position. I'm just being honest.

Note to the analogy-challenged: One shouldn't compare apples to oranges. But it's fair to say both are food. So while you might be tempted to argue the differences between an anti-doctor-assisted-suicide activist and a pedophile and a terrorist, you'd be missing the larger point that they are all examples of deeply immoral behavior. And the world would be better off without them.

Let me be the first to point out that I live in a bubble in Northern California. For example, I can't think of a single person in my extended social group who is a creationist. Clearly my experience is not representative of the country as a whole. You don't need to point that out in the comments. I get it.

My blog post from yesterday got reprinted all over the Internet, generating thousands of comments on various sites. I spent hours looking through them, and I would say 95% are clearly in favor of doctor-assisted suicide. But obviously the folks who comment on Internet message boards are not representative of the country as a whole.

I don't trust anecdotal evidence but I have a hard time believing that 49% of my country is opposed to doctor-assisted suicide. I would think you can only get that result if you ask the question in a way that leads the witness. I'm looking at you, pollsters.

If you ask citizens whether or not they believe doctors should have the legal right to kill terminally ill people, or some version of that question, of course you get a lot of resistance. I can easily imagine 49% of the public being opposed to a question that leads the witness in that way.

Now suppose you ask this way: "If you are terminally ill and expect to be in terrible pain for months, if not years, do you want the government to decide what healthcare options are available to you, or should that decision be made by some combination of you, your doctor and your loved ones?"

My best guess is that 90% of the public would oppose giving the government veto power over their personal healthcare decisions.

Many folks have legitimate concerns that doctor-assisted-suicide laws could be implemented poorly. The best safeguard would be a legal requirement that a citizen has to specifically request a doctor-assisted-suicide option in his written healthcare directive, complete with a personalized list of safeguards. For example, a rich person might request an independent panel of experts get involved, should the need arise, because he doesn't trust his next-of-kin to keep their paws off his inheritance. Others might entrust the decision-making to a doctor plus one trusted family member. And perhaps you can further specify what happens if you are in a coma, or not mentally competent, and so on. Each person can take on as much or as little risk as they like. It's called freedom. Is 49% of my country opposed to that?

 
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+6 Rank Up Rank Down
Nov 27, 2013
I like the way you phrased the question: "do you want the government to decide..."

But I do think the 49% number is roughly accurate. Here's why:
Most Americans still identify as Christians, thereby putting suicide and euthanasia in the "thou shalt not" category.

Consider it relative to the abortion debate: pro-choice advocates never argue the merits of taking a fetus's life; they argue that a fetus isn't a life. That argument can't be made of senior.

Personally, I agree with individual choice (with appropriate safeguards against abuse). But I can see where a detached 49% would say they believe it's "wrong."
 
 
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Nov 27, 2013
They have doctor-assisted suicide in Oregon, do they not? How is that working out there? (I'm asking sincerely, no sarcasm intended).
 
 
+38 Rank Up Rank Down
Nov 27, 2013
@RayKremer
[but as soon as you have somebody making a business of helping people die you're opening all sorts of cans of worms that are better off closed.]

There is already a business model (drain all the patients resources) of helping people *not* die and force a continuation of a torturous existence upon them and their families.

That is most of Scott's point - the can is already open, just upsides down.

[The upside-down can analogy made me laugh. I call that analogy judo. Nicely done. -- Scott]
 
 
+11 Rank Up Rank Down
Nov 27, 2013
If the 49% part is true, I'm guessing that 100% of them have not had to deal with a loved one in that kind of situation.
 
 
-12 Rank Up Rank Down
Nov 27, 2013
I don't know man, your hyberbole is a huge turn-off for reasonable discussion here. Giving a elderly person medical care is torture? And standing for life on general principle is an accomplice in torture? Please. That's your raw emotion talking, not sane discourse. Being elderly isn't nice for anyone, and that's not the fault of the government or hospitals.

Now, I'm not sure what your father's !$%*!$%*!$%*! were. I certainly think that if there is no desire on the part of the elderly person or their family that the person be kept alive on machines at all costs for as long as possible, that the hospital or government shouldn't be able to step in and say "we're going to do it anyway". That's a whole different thing from bringing in the poison IV. I guess I don't begrudge an elderly person that wants to hasten death, my own grandfather ate a bullet over a painful medical condition that surgery wasn't able to help, but as soon as you have somebody making a business of helping people die you're opening all sorts of cans of worms that are better off closed.
 
 
Nov 27, 2013
The high-ground moralists who shout the loudest about creationism and why everyone should obey THEIR rules are those least able to exercise rational moral judgments. Unfortunatley I fear a sensible debate on assisted suicide would be very difficult to hear with all the shouting going on. Switzerland seems to have it right. At least in the UK, we can request DNR (Do Not Ressucitate) if we are able and conscious enough to do so. That and the Liverpool Care Pathway (if someone is deemed to be untreatable, don't treat apart from pain relief) were steps in the right direction but the moralists have started on those now.
 
 
Nov 27, 2013
[It's called freedom. Is 49% of my country opposed to that?]

Sadly, the answer today is yes. In fact, it very well be the majority of people who not only don't want freedom, they don't want anyone else to have freedom. They may not even understand what freedom is.
 
 
-2 Rank Up Rank Down
Nov 27, 2013
I'm not going a lengthy post. You know that people are politically illiterate. They don't understand most of the issues, never search any kind of information about the issues and the different solutions. They might not even care which way their representative vote on those. For all practical purpose, the 49% is not !$%*!$%*! it's how people are going to vote. Not that the number is not biased by pollster. But you know the people in US (or anywhere on the planet really) are ignorant, if not plain out dumb. Just pointing out the obvious. I still agree with you.
 
 
+3 Rank Up Rank Down
Nov 27, 2013
Circ u m stance was the filtered word.......
 
 
+14 Rank Up Rank Down
Nov 27, 2013
Americans will always be irrational regarding moral dilemmas. The country was founded by uptight Christians too prude for Protestant England, after all.

I would think anyone against end of life choices - just has not had it made personal yet. And if these activist have any say in keeping me or my loved ones in agony and poverty, I would hope this *loving* !$%*!$%*!$%* is well visited upon them and everyone they love as well. The reporter you mentioned is, indeed, happy to make a decision that would result in the torture of others.

As to any survey, that is simply 49% of people who weren't smart enough to hang up on the survey call. University studies are always done with college-aged students as the test subjects. Not exactly an accurate cross-section of society. Questionable groups to amass data from, by any measurement.

And the government involved in healthcare? Better organisation from a tree full of monkeys.

Your public opinion pieces set yourself up as a irresistible target for the Moral Taliban. Keep up the good work.
 
 
 
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