Count the Cost of Denying Patients Assisted Suicide: Bioethicist

For more than 20 years Family Council has opposed efforts to legalize assisted suicide in Arkansas.

Last year we helped defeat a proposal to let doctors prescribe lethal drugs to patients.

One of the points we have made time and again is that patients, doctors, and hospitals may feel financial pressure to opt for assisted suicide, if it is legalized.

Last year a Canadian man with ALS made headlines when he chose to take his own life under the country’s assisted suicide and euthanasia laws after the government chose not to provide him with 24-hour home healthcare services due to cost.

In parts of the U.S. where physician-assisted suicide is legal, insurance companies have refused to pay for patients’ medical care, but have offered to cover assisted-suicide drugs.

Proponents of assisted suicide generally dismiss these concerns.

However, last week a bioethicist and a European professor published an article in which they actually argued that assisted suicide makes sense economically.

Writing in the journal Clinical Ethics, bioethicist Dr. David Shaw and Professor Alec Morton make three points:

  • Assisted suicide lets patients avoid suffering
  • The resources that would be used helping them could be used to help other patients instead
  • Doctors may be able to harvest organs from patients who opt for assisted suicide

The authors even go so far as to write,

For example, a patient who is in great pain because of cancer with a life expectancy of around two years will continue to require pain medication and support from clinical staff and also carers for those two years. For each such patient, legalising assisted dying would avoid this waste of resources.

There is so much wrong with these arguments that it is difficult to know where to begin.

For starters, we know from experience in other states that assisted suicide doesn’t actually help patients avoid suffering.

In fact, most people who inquire about assisted suicide generally are not concerned about pain or suffering.

Many of them are lonely and feel like they are losing control over their lives because of their illness. They need counseling — not a prescription for lethal drugs.

Second, you cannot place a dollar value on human life — but that is exactly where this type of thinking leads.

Being pro-life means believing human life is sacred from conception until natural death.

Just like abortion, euthanasia and assisted-suicide are murder, and they violate the sanctity of human life.

Buying a Baby

Our friends at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview recently released a pointed commentary underscoring the issue of people buying and selling of children through commercial surrogacy.

John Stonestreet writes,

According to a recent ABC headline, “2020 [presidential] hopeful Pete Buttigieg says he and his husband are planning to have a child soon.” But that’s simply a misleading choice of words.

A more accurate way to put it would be how our sharp-tongued BreakPoint writer Shane Morris did on Facebook: “2020 hopeful Pete Buttigieg planning to buy an egg and hire a woman to serve as an incubator so he and partner can go on playing house together and turn another human being into their prop. There,” Shane said, “I fixed your headline.”

I wouldn’t have said it quite that way, but Shane has a point. Same-sex couples don’t have children together. They’ve chosen an intentionally sterile relationship, but then borrow from God’s design to bring children into existence before denying them a mother or a father.

When Stonestreet and Morris refer to people buying human eggs and hiring women to carry children, they’re talking about commercial surrogacy, where companies and wealthy couples pay women thousands of dollars for their eggs or to have children for them.

Family Council opposes commercial surrogacy, in part, because we believe it amounts to buying and selling babies. Commercial surrogacy and egg harvesting also carry a number of health risks for women.

Arkansas law currently lets companies harvest women’s eggs for profit. That’s why we supported H.B. 1761 by Rep. Cindy Crawford (R – Fort Smith) and Sen. Missy Irvin (R – Mountain View) this year. This good bill would have regulated the buying and selling of human eggs. It would have prohibited companies from paying women for their eggs, but it contained exceptions for free egg donations and for fertility treatments.

The bill passed in the Arkansas House, but unfortunately failed to make it through the senate before the session adjourned.

Photo by Filip Mroz on Unsplash