Assisted Suicide, the New Abortion?

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?


  • Travis (unverified)

    Brownback was recently quoted as saying he wants to promote a "Culture of Life". He is trying to hit this issue from all sides, with abortion, assisted suicide and the death penalty, all of which he is against. He brought these up Feb 1st 2006 citing them as values he believes in as a catholic. This is clearly nothing more than appealing to his base in very conservative Kansas.

    -Travis VP UO College Dems

  • Former Salem Staffer (unverified)

    I just sent Sen. Brownback an e-mail telling him (in so many words) what a butthole he is and that he should respect states' rights. I also told him that instead of sucking up to social conservatives to avoid a route in November, he and his colleagues should start doing their jobs, instead of passing tax cuts for millionaires and oil profiteers. I expect an automated response any minute now...

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    Brownback is a creature of exactly this type of politics. It got him elected and has kept him in office.

    The conflation of the assisted suicide in Oregon with euthanasia in Holland is also part of the standard bag of tricks.

    What's The Matter With Oregon? might be a good book title for the next Brownback book.

  • Eric (unverified)

    Why can't conservatives leave everyone alone? Unless it hurts you directly, what is the point in controlling others? Jusr because these repugnicans are bored with thier lives does not mean it gives them the right to control our lives for their objectives.

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    It's because they won't be happy until they push their religous beliefs on everyone.

    When I read the article about Brownback's speech online, my first thought was why push an issue that can't be won. No matter how they try to legislate getting rid of Oregon's Death With Dignity Act, it won't work.

    It seem to me like Brownback's position is the same as Bush's on this issue. They won't be happy until they can push their agenda as far as they can.

  • Levon (unverified)

    Dear Senator Brownback,

    Please do everything in your power to keep this issue at the forefront of American politics for the next 5 months. In fact, here in Oregon, it would be extraordinarily helpful if you could convince all of your party brethren to adopt the following credo:

    "I -Republican for XXXX office, do hereby pledge to do everything in my power to promote a culture of life. My first act in office will be to seek to overturn Oregon's Death with Dignity Law. Nothing is more important to promoting life in Oregon and the US."

    Thank you Senator Brownback for helping your fellow Republicans help eliminate the culture of death that currently exists in Oregon.

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    So much for state's rights. I guess those just apply when the right gripes about the federal government.

    It's a losing dead (yes, pun intended) issue. Even if Congress manages to pass a law, it would end up in the courts anyway.

    The far right has gone off the cliff pushing it's anti-abortion, wall along on the border, culture of life, corrupt agenda. You can tell just how desperate they are getting to make people forget about the huge national debt they've run up along with a wars in multiple countries.

    Maybe it's time to tackle the real problems?

  • theanalyst (unverified)

    This is already a wedge issue for many "paleo" conservatives. If you look around a little, you'll find that the paleos don't like such an assault on state's rights either. They might not like physician-assisted suicide, but they have greater dislike for those that would use the power of the federal government to eliminate it.

    And I think the paleos have a point. When liberals are in power, we get to use the "ring of Sauron" to do all these great things at the federal level that we want to do. But the ring of Sauron can just as easily pass to the religious right or the neocons, and then it's their turn to impose things at the federal level, and then we liberals don't like it. In my old age I have more respect for the state's rights argument, of which physician-assisted suicide is but one example.

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    I'm with Levon--all national GOP candidates should make a key plank in their campaigns the desire to thwart the will of Oregon (and yes, Oregon Republican) voters. I suspect a victory on par with the one they secured in the Terri Schiavo affair.

  • Zarathustra (unverified)

    Obviously he can't reason logically. Expand assisted suicide. Let perfectly healthy people decide they'd like to cash out. How many conservatives would do that? The progressives would be lining up, though. He's really missing an opportunity.

    Ultimately I do have hope that the evangelicals will self-destruct on the pro-life issue. Already there's serious dissent, internally, about why their pro-life stance is so selective. Surprising it's taken so long. Why did it take 30 years for conservatives to question the way anti-abortion bills are usually written, "except when the mother's life is in danger or case of rape". Why rape? If it's about the sanctity of life, how is that life less holy? It was always, obviously about sex, and their wanting the woman to suffer for having had pre-marital sex. You allow terminating the pregnancy in the case of rape because the rapist got his way in having sex, and the woman shouldn't suffer further. Proves it was about making women suffer that they made a specific exemption. Which is why the "back alley" argument never dents conservatives' position on the issue. They like that effect of making abortion illegal.

    Now you are actually hearing evangelicals that say that the distinction is stupid and hypocritical and they've begun talking about the death penalty and war. They have to go that way, which will result in the general public seeming them for the extremists that they are. And maybe we'll get rid of the death penalty in the meantime.

    Paleo-conservatives, I don't think, are anything new. We just usually call them Libertarians.

  • Rob (unverified)

    Hey Levon and Jeff Alworth-doesn't it suck to hold a view that is in the minority in the state of Oregon?

    Death With Dignity is here to stay-get over it already.

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    Uh Rob, that was comedy.

  • Levon (unverified)

    Uh Rob, that was sarcasm.

  • John Grey (unverified)

    This Oregon "act of blasphemy" will be overturned soon enough. Enjoy your sick, twisted, godless "culture of death" while you have it-it will be gone before you know it. Shame on you for trying to interfere in God's will.

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