Air Date: November 4, 2013
Host: Jim Schneider
Guest: Wesley J. Smith
Wesley J Smith is an attorney, author and senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism. He is a consultant to the Patients Rights Council and a special consultant for the Center for Bioethics and Culture.
His book, Forced Exit: Euthanasia, Assisted Suicide and the New Duty to Die, which he authored in 1997, has become a classic in anti-euthanasia advocacy. He writes regularly on bioethics, assisted suicide, the dangers of animal rights, the anti-human elements in the radical environmental movement, legal ethics and public affairs. He often advises legislative and executive branches of government on these issues.
Decisions by nations and states to allow physician assisted suicide in recent years have resulted increasing legal decisions that expand those that are allowed, as well as many who die without regard for the legal limitations on this practice.
There is a distinction in terms:
–Assisted Suicide means the final act causing death is done by the person wishing to die
–Euthanasia means the final act causing death is done by a physician or other person authorized to do so.
Contrary to popular belief, this is not limited to those with terminal illnesses. In fact, in European countries most laws do not have that restriction, so people are being euthanized due to mental illness (often connected with harvesting of organs), because they are losing their sight, or are elderly couples who don’t want to live apart, and other non-life-threatening situations.
Statistics are misleading, as many situations are not reported as ‘euthanasia’, including if the person is being killed to escape suffering (physical, emotional, or psychological), intentional overdoses of medication, or ‘terminal sedation’, where a person is put into a coma and then allowed to starve to death.
In the Netherlands, if a physician has moral objections to assisting with a suicide, they MUST refer to another physician who is willing to do so. And if a doctor is not legally qualified to commit euthanasia, he can give instructions on how the patient can kill himself. Quebec, Canada, is about to legalize assisted suicide, with similar provisions.
In the United States, Oregon law states the person must be terminally ill, but that is not necessarily so. In fact, Medicaid is being rationed, so that it will not pay for medication and treatment to extend life, but will pay for assisted suicide.
Vermont is dealing with how to pay for a single-payer insurance plan, with editorials suggesting they follow Oregon’s lead including health care rationing.
The ‘Hemlock Society’, now called ‘Compassion and Choices’, advocates for euthanasia, and boasts that they helped write some of the language in the Obamacare legislation.
Wesley Smith says this is all so unnecessary. Many years ago, someone with a diagnosis of a terminal illness usually could expect to die in agony–yet there was not talk of ‘death with dignity’ then. Today, medical advances allow pain control in just about any situation.
Read Wesley J. Smith’s blog at
Follow his comments on Twitter, at this address