Assisted suicide bill in Governor Jerry Brown’s hands
Whether we like it or not, California, our most populous state, is the nose cone on the national rocket, and we are going to regret being asleep in the control center.
Just one day after World Suicide Prevention Day — Sept. 10 — (how calculated was that?) both the United Kingdom and the California Senate weighed in on the responsibility of passing assisted suicide legislation. While the Parliament in the UK voted heavily against legalizing assisted suicide, the California Senate voted just the opposite, striking a staggering blow to CA Penal Code 401 that made “assisting, aiding, and encouraging” suicide a felony for 141 years.
So goes California, so goes the nation. So goes the nation, some say, so goes the world.
For my money, everyone in suicide prevention might as well go take a hike, for this move by the California Senate to strike down the old state law represents the abandonment of hope. Anyone legally hoping to prevent the predatory encouragement of someone else’s suicide has little to no-chance-in-hell to do so.
All the keyboard warriors out there in social media-land might as well dump their advocacy pages and take up different causes other than suicide prevention. Protecting lions in Africa will be infinitely easier than protecting depressed kids or despondent adults from suicide predators. William Melchert-Dinkel and Michelle Carter will become visionaries of Free Speech courtesy of the state.
“Ashers” at alt.suicide.holiday (unregulated suicide Usenet newsgroup) will be able to to encourage anyone “to catch the bus,” code phrase for killing yourself without fear of consequences.
And what can be said, then, of the Hallidie Plaza, San Francisco, public suicide baiting-site of my son Dylan Yount’s death on Feb. 16, 2010?
Will we say that the “sponsorship” of his suicide death by 24 uniformed San Francisco police officers might just be viewed legally, at long last, as mere entertainment from the “municipal facilitators” known as the SFPD? Certainly, their lawyers working in the city attorney’s office have been saying all along that their police only have to “watch” on the suicide attempt scene anyway.
“Law” could become a brutal teacher, though — the cruelest martinet of all — with the clearest message in “modern” civilization: Some lives are not worth living.
Not. Worth. Living.
If we think we have been shocked by the abuses of Belgium’s assisted suicide laws where children and depressed people are frequently granted their wishes for dying “with dignity,” we may not yet have begun to envision the abuses that legalized suicide could create in our own country.
Homeless people, the mentally ill, and the disabled — lives that have already been marginalized by a rising police state culture — will ultimately suffer first. Already serially brutalized or deemed as just “inconvenient” by others (read San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee here) — what superhuman advocate will be able to stand between the disenfranchised and the “right to die with dignity” group?
California’s “right to die” bill AB X2-15, formerly CA Senate Bill 128, may well stand as a dystopian treatment to humanity’s shame, a Pandora’s Box too difficult to shut once it has been opened. Even though California lawmakers have given it only a 10-year shelf life before it would need to be “renewed” to continue, by then assisted suicide might well have become the law of the land.
Whatever euphemism people use, suicide death means “unnatural” death, which brings us to the precipice of the terrible darkness in the death culture we are creating.
There have always been silent rooms and maybe guilty thoughts from those standing next to the deathbeds of loved ones in the damp caves of earliest civilization until the abodes of now. There have always been men of medicine who have wielded “discretion” in their practice of their professional alchemy. And doctors have always been a reservoir of compassion tempered with their knowledge of human suffering. Pulling the plug is, after all, much older than electricity.
Now, though, the government is about to get involved in a big way if California perhaps becomes the fifth state to legitimize suicide.
The insurance companies will undoubtedly deploy government — and its attendant judiciary — to end up deciding which lives matter. While suicide has traditionally been regarded as a psychological illness or accident, two new components will be added to the mix — “expediency” and “productivity.”
Then, the slippery slope everyone has been warning about becomes a reality and those standing around in those inevitable deathbed scenes could grow weary and “impatient” just like the “immediacy factor” that overtook the people yelling “JUMP!” in the suicide baiting crowd in San Francisco.
Assisted suicide legitimizes killing yourself “expeditiously,” neatly and state-sponsored.
I will pray for Governor Jerry Brown — who alone has the power to veto this horrible legislation — but I do not know if I believe in prayer any longer or even the expectation of human decency.
Anyone pretending that suicide is so difficult is a liar. Taking your life is as easy as flipping a switch — 41,000 do it every year, one person every 12.8 seconds. The real challenge of human existence is how to help each other live well until the end.