To bans on gay marriage, flag burning, abortion, and stem cell research, Christian conservatives want to add one more: Oregon's Death With Dignity law. Kansas Senator Sam Brownback is leading the charge, and the Oregonian reports today that it may be the latest t-bone in a slate of red-meat initiatives designed to distract evangelical Christian voters from GOP incompetence and corruption:
Republicans, confronting the possibility of losing control of Congress this November, are doing everything possible to mobilize their base of social conservatives, including a campaign emphasis on abortion, gay marriage and broadcasting decency. Now Oregon's assisted-suicide law -- and the threat of euthanasia -- may join the list of issues Republicans hope will win them political advantage.
Brownback began "examining" assisted suicide last month, demagoguing the issue with false arguments and phony scare tactics:
“Legalizing doctor-assisted suicide can lead toward involuntary euthanasia, as we’ve seen in the Netherlands. If the law permits doctor-assisted suicide it could actually create a financial incentive for insurance companies to encourage prematurely ending the lives of those in need of long-term care. When the law permits killing as a medical ‘treatment,’ society’s moral guidelines are blurred, and the experience in the Netherlands gives us reason to believe that killing could gain acceptance as a solution for the chronically ill or vulnerable.”
Oregon's landmark law--which Brownback seemed to skirt--doesn't allow involuntary euthanasia and has a number of well-studied provisions to protect patients. But even leaving aside Oregon's law, assisted suicide is not as susceptible to demagoguery as abortion. In the Terri Schiavo debacle, Republicans managed to wedge their own supporters. Is Brownback in danger of repeating the mistake?