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Reblogged:Malchow Flees Superstitious Taboo

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Over at Hot Air, Jazz Shaw discusses the decision by Democrat strategist Hal Malchow to go abroad in order to end his own life on his own terms, before he loses his mind to Alzheimer's Disease.

Before this story broke, I was unaware that even in American states that have legalized physician-assisted suicide, the laws apply only to people with a fatal condition who will die in a few months.

Malchow, after seeing his mother deteriorate with the disease, got himself tested for its genetic markers and discovered that he would eventually succumb to the same fate:
Legal Status of Euthanasia Worldwide. (Image by Michael Jester, via Wikimedia Commons, license.)
Malchow returned to the vow he had made half a life earlier about what he would do when Alzheimer's arrived: "I knew that if it happened, I was not going to let all this play out to the end." He had seen how responsibility for his mother had fallen on those around her, and he believed it would be unfair to his wife, Anne Marsh, who already suffered from multiple sclerosis. Several American states, including New Mexico, permit physician-assisted suicide under so-called death-with-dignity laws, but all require a candidate to have a fatal condition with only months left to live. Malchow did not qualify and had no interest in living until he did. "What's the point? You know, why sit around the house and watch a little piece of your brain disappear every day?" he says. "And the ordeal for the caretaker is terrible." [bold added]
Malchow had to travel to Switzerland to do something that should be a matter of making one's intent legally clear, settling one's affairs, and going to a hospital.

This should serve as a wake-up call to anyone who would want the option to end life on one's own terms in the event of a catastrophic illness that involves a lengthy period of deterioration.

Legal protection of the right to seek out assistance in suicide faces two major obstacles, one a legitimate concern and one not.

Malchow's story mentions one along the way:
Last September, Malchow contacted Dignitas, a nonprofit advocacy group that facilitates assisted death, to begin making arrangements. He had to submit a two-page autobiography -- a task, he imagined, to ensure he'd deliberated on his options and was not acting impulsively -- alongside medical records that a Swiss psychiatrist reviewed to grant a "provisional green light" to proceed with planning. [bold added]
Because the law exists to protect the individual's rights, it should be non-trivial to exercise this right, because of the possibility of a momentary lapse of sound judgement or pressure from, say, relatives hoping for an early inheritance. These are legitimate concerns, and it appears -- contrary to theocratic smears -- that jurisdictions that recognize this right have accounted for them.

And speaking of theocratic smears, Jazz Shaw brings up the other, illegitimate obstacle:
Some will argue that this decision is in defiance of God's will and that he will pay a price for it. Perhaps you are correct, but that's a chance that Hal is willing to take and none of us truly knows for sure. Others may wish to turn away because the story is too painful to contemplate. But it's one that we will all face sooner or later unless we are suddenly and unexpectedly swept away from this mortal coil in an accident or otherwise. [bold added]
They may argue, but the argument is based on an arbitrary premise that has no place as a basis for law. Or, as I said last year:
It think it is clear why the "rights are a gift from God" crowd opposes physician-assisted suicide: It is because they imagine that it displeases a being (that they imagine out of whole cloth), and their whole conception of morality begins and ends at a list of commands having everything to do with "pleasing" this being -- and nothing to do with reason, with living on this earth, or with happiness.
If the law permits euthanasia, and the state is barred from ordering executions, then anyone worried about offending an imaginary being can choose to continue suffering.

I find it interesting that the same religion that condemns suicide was fine with "Kill them. The Lord knows those that are his own," back when it held power. Those who claim that death and suffering are God's will bring exactly those things to those who will not fight against them.

They did it on a grand scale in the Middle Ages, and they do it now, every time someone who would want a dignified end to an inhuman future is denied that end by a superstitious taboo enshrined as law.

-- CAV

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