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Why Can’t You Kill Yourself?

June 20th, 2011

By Elizabeth Young

Kevorkian

The recent passing of Dr. Jack Kevorkian, and the arrest of the 91-year old woman making a "killing" selling $60 suicide kits, has forced society to look at why we are not allowed the right to die with dignity. [1]

Sharlotte Hydorn's kit, packed into a white box adorned with a butterfly, contained a plastic bag, a tube, and a book titled Final Exit. Customers rent a helium tank, place their head in the plastic bag and run a hose from the bag to the tank, and within a few minutes another life is ended peacefully.

Hydorn had been selling about two or three kits a month until a 29 year-old used one to end his life because he couldn't find a tall building to jump out of or figure out how to hang himself and kick the chair out from under him at the same time.

Nick Klonoski wasn't terminally ill, but just depressed and wanted a peaceful end to his suffering.

Although a compassionate society would never withhold "the ultimate human right," from a mentally competent, terminally ill person who chooses to avoid unnecessary suffering, letting someone end their life because they are depressed is another story.

Sales took off as a result of the media attention stemming from Nick's brother Zack, who is angry that Hydorn made $60 off his brother's death.

"In a society where so many people suffer from depression and other mental health disorders, this company has found their niche [niche is the right word, annual sales are now about $98,000] in the market by peddling death. This is analogous to putting a gun-vending machine next to a depression clinic. She made $60 off my brother's death."

Yes, he actually said this in front of the Oregon state legislature. [2]

The admonition against euthanasia can't really be defended on any legal, moral, or ethical grounds.

If you don't mind wearing a diaper, throwing up all over yourself, and suffering the pain and humiliation because you can no longer perform your Activities of Daily Living (ADLs), that is your choice, but no one, especially the pro-lifers (actually pro-fetusers), have the right or authority to make that decision for me. And I haven't even discussed the suffering your loved ones will have to endure while you wait for God, or a doctor playing God, to decide when it's time for you to go.

Click here to read a thorough debunking of all of the suicide/euthanasia slippery slope arguments (except one) put forward by the Care Not Killing Alliance.

A Natural Death

No discussion of Euthanasia would be complete without hearing from Pope Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate (Truth in Love):

In order to protect nature, it is not enough to intervene with economic incentives or deterrents; not even an apposite education is sufficient. These are important steps, but the decisive issue is the overall moral tenor of society. If there is a lack of respect for the right to life and to a natural death, if human conception, gestation, and birth are made artificial, if human embryos are sacrificed to research, the conscience of society ends up losing the concept of human ecology and, along with it, that of environmental ecology.

A "natural death?" Unless Doctors have a direct line to God when they decide to prolong your life, then the word "natural" should not be used when it comes to your death.

If we really want to make sure all deaths are "natural" then we should ban any type of "life saving" medical treatment, especially organ transplants.

The Suicide Prevention Police (The Care Not Killing Alliance)

Until recently suicide was part of the homicide laws in most places on Earth.
"Enlightened" lawmakers around the world finally recognized that suicide is a form of harming oneself and therefore it is no longer a crime.

Today, when you attempt suicide and fail, instead of going to jail you are locked up in an insane asylum. After all anyone who is tired of living must be crazy and needs help.

Question 1 for the Suicide Police: Why is it crazy to want to get out of here early? How can anyone be sure that if I end my life as a believer or non-believer that I am not going to a better place?

And for you Christians, are you aware that there is nothing in the Bible that says suicide is murder or some kind of unforgivable sin? You can kill yourself any time you like, and if the free gift of salvation story is true, then you are off to heaven...albeit early.

Question 2 for the Suicide Police, and in particular for the pro-life (really pro-fetus) academic Professor Margaret Somerville:
You already have your free pass to heaven, so what are you waiting for?

Look, if there is a heaven, it's got to be better than "this," so why not get there right away. And if there isn't a heaven, and you are going to the other place (without air conditioning), it's for eternity, so a few more years isn't going to matter.

To prevent non-believers from exercising the ultimate civil right might be an unforgiveable sin. What if you are wrong? To condemn a terminally ill atheist or agnostic and their family to years of suffering is sadistic.

The End Game: explained by the leading opponents of "death with dignity", The Care Not Killing Alliance (Alliance):

"The end game will be a universal right to die for the competent, a duty to die for the incompetent, and a social pressure on people with disabilities and the elderly to take the "last will/peaceful pill".

The costs to society in medical care for the elderly are enormous. The Alliance, in their zeal to force their beliefs on the rest of society, ignore the obvious contradiction in their position:

Voluntary euthanasia legislation warrants a conscience vote for politicians, but reductions in health funding causing involuntary euthanasia from resource restrictions do not.

The Alliance see the camel's nose enter the tent when Dr. Rob Jonquiére, CEO of the Dying With Dignity organization (NVVE), made it very clear that their final goal is that the "last will pill" could be taken by anyone who is tired of living.

NVVE, working to establish euthanasia as a human right, stated that the actions of the radical side of the right to die movement was holding politicians back from supporting the "last will pill."

It isn't a duty or societal pressure to die that the Suicide Police should be worried about, but a fear that thousands, if not millions, faced with a choice in living in this world, even if they are not suffering mentally or physically, will, if they have a peaceful pill option, choose death.

The man who kills a man kills a man.
The man who kills himself kills all men.
As far as he is concerned, he wipes out the world."
-- G.K. Chesterton

Gilbert Keith Chesterton was an influential English writer in the early 20th century. His prolific and diverse output included journalism, poetry, biography, Christian apologetics, fantasy, and detective fiction.

Chesterton's assessment of suicide reflected a concern that humanity's future on Earth would be threatened if mankind refused to take an interest in his existence.

But Chesterton died in 1936, when the world population was about 2 billion.

That would be 61 years before the United Nations released a massive report, the GEO4, that finds the planet in "dire environmental straits because humanity's footprint [its environmental demand] is 21.9 hectares per person while the Earth's biological capacity is, on average, only 15.7 ha/person." The report gives details on past trends and future prospects on the atmosphere, pollution, food, biodiversity,
water and inequality in the world, and the picture is grim.

Had he known Earth, in 1997, would be at the "unknown points of no return," and at serious risk due to "the dangers of climate change, water scarcity, dwindling fish stocks, and the pressures on the land and the extinction of species," Chesterton might have written, The man who kills himself, as far as he is concerned, saves the planet.

Right to Die-NL (NVVE in Dutch) was founded in 1973 in Friesland, a district in the north of the Netherlands. That year, Dr. Postma went to court and was found guilty of voluntary euthanasia. The only source of income the society has is the membership fee of 17.50 that members pay yearly. People on a minimum income can pay a reduced fee. Sometimes, the NVVE receives donations or legacies. No governmental aid is asked or given. Click here to visit the Right to Die-NL website in English.

Endnotes:
[1] Wisconsin State Representative Lloyd Barbee of Milwaukee introduced an act "relating to establishing a right to die" on October 22, 1975. If passed, the measure would have made an exception in the state's homicide law for killing upon request and it would have abolished the crime of assisting suicide.

[2] The 91-Year-Old Woman Selling $60 Suicide Kits

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