“Passer-by pushes suicide jumper in South China,” AP News, May 23, 2009.
Beijing (AP) – Chen Fuchao, a man heavily in debt, had been contemplating suicide on a bridge in southern China for hours when a passer-by came up, shook his hand – and pushed him off the ledge.
The passer-by, 66-year-old Lai Jiansheng, had been fed up with what he called Chen’s ’selfish activity,’ Xinhua [News Agency] said. Traffic around the Haizhu bridge in the city of Guangzhou had been backed up for five hours and police had cordoned off the area.
‘I pushed him off because jumpers like Chen are very selfish. Their action violates a lot of public interest,’ Lai was quoted as saying by Xinhua. ‘
Could Mr. Lai’s assault on Mr. Fuchao (had he not survived the fall) fairly be called “assisted suicide?” Euthanasia? Could it become a metaphor for what “assisted suicide” has become in the Netherlands and is destined to be come in the states of Washington and Orgeon, where it has recently been legalized? What about states such as California in which activists are working to legalize it? If someone is having trouble making up their mind, what’s wrong with a little push? Right?
In his book “Seduced by death,” Norton & Co., (1998), Herbert Hendin says:
The United States is alone among the industrialized democracies in not guaranteeing medical care to large numbers of its population. Without such care, euthanasia would become a forced choice for large numbers of the poor, minority groups, and older people; many of whom would be vulnerable to pressure for assisted suicide and euthanasia by family, physicians, hospitals and nursing homes.
The author’s point isn’t so much the advocacy of a particular healthcare scheme but rather a prediction that any healthcare system which fails to cover vulnerable segments of the population is a receipe for mass murder when combined with assisted suicide, which invariably morphs into euthanasia.
Betsy McCaughey, writing for Boomberg, “Ruin Your Health With the Obama Stimulus Plan,” Feb. 9, 2009, says Tom Daschle, author of the first installment of Mr. Obama’s healthcare reforms, has written that with Obama Care, rationed medicine is inevitable: “He praises Europeans for being more willing to accept ‘hopeless diagnoses’ and ‘forgo experimental treatments,’ and he chastises Americans for expecting too much from the health-care system.” She says Daschle also believes “Seniors should be more accepting of the conditions that come with age instead of treating them.”
This sounds suspiciously like Gov. Richard Lamm (D-CO) who famously declared that seniors have a duty to die and get out of the way — stop squandering scarce medial resources. Sounds as selfish has Mr. Fuchao tying up traffic. Knock off the delay and get on with it!
Dick Morris (”Only Way to Reduce Costs is to Ration Healthcare,” RealClearPolitics.com, May 14, 2009) points out that “As in Canada, the best way to cut medical costs is to refrain from using the best drugs to treat cancer and other illnesses, thereby economizing at the expense of patients’ lives.” He adds that “As a result, death rates from cancer are 16% higher in Canada than the United States.”
Take away a patient’s hope of recovery, then legalize assisted suicide and how much pressure will it take to convince patients with serious but treatable conditions that it’s time to go? The May 24, 2009 Los Angeles Times (”More Opt For Early Benefits”) reports that “As Americans live longer, the elderly are increasingly at risk of outlasting their financial assets. That’s a serious problem for them and their families, who are often called upon to provide assistance.” And we can be assured that some of those families will exert subtle and not so sublte pressure on elderly relatives to take an early exit where it is lawful. I am not even discussing the studies which suggest that we already have widespread but informal assisted suicide and euthanasia, even in states in which it is technically against the law.
Charles Krauthammer notes (”Obama: The Grand Strategy,” RealClearPolitics.com, April 24, 2009) that:
It is estimated that a third to a half of one’s lifetime health costs are consumed in the last six months of life. Accordingly, Britain’s National Health Service can deny treatments it deems not cost-effective – and if you’re old and infirm, the cost-effectiveness of treating you plummets. In Canada, they ration by queuing. You can wait forever for so-called elective procedures like hip replacements.
Perhaps that’s why so many Canadians prefer to cross the border and queue-up in the U.S.
Some pain management specialists argue that vitrually all pain can be managed, especially during end-of-life care, where the patient is teminal and when the side-effects of pain medication are no longer a concern. They say that suicidal patients are usually depressed and in pain, so why are we talking about killing the patient instead of treating the depression and pain? Some assert that unbearable pain is actually a function of medical malpractice, because there should be no upper limit to pain med doses where otherwise intractable pain is experienced. They cite the “double-effect” phenomonen where dosage levels required to manage the pain (as in rendering the patient insentient) will also depress (perhaps eventually fatally) cardio-vascular/respiratory function. The medicine is administered with the intention of blocking pain receptors but an unintended – not purposeful – consequence is the hastening of death. In this view, competent hospice care obviates the “necessity” for The Hemlock Society.
Ten years ago, the BBC published a story titled “Euthanasia controls ‘failing,’” Feb. 16, 1999. The story cited a study in the Journal of Medical Ethics which found that “almost two-thirds of cases of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide [in the Netherlands] went unreported.” More disturbing was the fact that “one in five cases of euthanasia occurred without the patient’s explicit request” and that “in 17% of such cases, alternative treatment was available, in contravention of the guidelines.” Despite the law’s requirement that death on demand only be available to patients experiencing “unbearable suffering,” the reality is that “the main reason given by patients for the request was ‘loss of dignity’” and “almost half said they took action ‘to prevent further suffering’” of any sort. The report concluded that “‘The reality is that a clear majority of cases of euthanasia, both with and without request, go unreported and unchecked.’” Regulation of euthanasia and assisted is a lie.
The report did not, however, indicate in what percentage of cases the euthanasia patients received a handshake before being pushed over the edge.