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Wesley J. Smith

The Pulse

Humanists actually support Robin Williams’ suicide?

Wesley J. Smith

The Humanist has an article out promoting assisted suicide as a “choice” issue that should be available for anyone with more than a transitory desire to die. 

The issue of death-on-demand–which lies at the heart of the euthanasia movement–is mostly avoided by the media and in policy discussions. But once killing is deemed an acceptable answer to human suffering, sheer logic leads eventually to reaching that destination–as Tone Stockenström’s article, “Is Dying a Pro-Choice Issue?” demonstrates.

Really, Wesley? Death on demand? What about tragic cases like Robin Williams? Surely, no one would want cases like his included in an assisted suicide license!

Oh no? Some think we should be relieved that Williams is no longer suffering.  From the article (my emphasis):

The thrust of the public’s anguish was that Williams was successful in ending his life. Rather than express feelings of relief that he had ended his suffering, people questioned how his death could have been prevented.

“Mental suffering is invisible to the human eye,” says thirty-four-year-old Kristy Martin, who attended the World Federation of Right-to-Die Societies conference in Chicago. Martin had a strict Catholic…struggled with the contradictions of her religious education and her desire to be free of her own body.

According to her religious parents, the idea of suicide was a sin and yet Martin’s mental suffering has been so potent that she likened the anguish she feels to “being a slave to your own body, much like a prison.” Martin attended the conference looking for options on aid in dying because she’s made the firm decision to decide how and when she will die, having her death on her own terms.

Can we say, “Pro suicide?” That certainly is how the spokesman for the Humanist Movement sounds:

SO WHERE do humanists stand on the issue of aid in dying? According to Ed Gogol, “There are those who favor physicians as the gatekeepers to a hastened death like the Oregon-style law, which states that two physicians must concur that you can reasonably be expected to die within six months.”

Ultimately, Gogol doesn’t think this law goes far enough. “A mentally competent adult, incurably ill and suffering intolerably should have the right to choose to hasten their death. It is ethically the highest form of compassion to help a person with intolerable suffering to exit this life.”

Helping people die is more compassionate than helping them overcome the magnetic pull of death?  That’s the clear message. At the very least, it is “debatable:”

But what about when it concerns children? What about the mentally ill? What about the people directly affected by another’s death?

These and other questions present a complex set of ethical issues on which humanists will have a range of opinions. At the very least, I would guess that a majority of humanists are open to discussing them, a challenge society still struggles with.

Oh well, at least it doesn’t pretend that the question is about terminal illness. So, some half-hearted cheers for honesty. This is what the euthanasia issue really is all about.

Reprinted with permission from National Review Online.

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