In 2016 Colorado voted to legalize physician-assisted suicide. The law lets doctors prescribe lethal drugs to terminally ill people who want to end their lives.
We have written in the past about studies and reports on assisted suicide in Canada and California. In most cases, people who opt to take their own lives are educated, affluent individuals accustomed to making their own decisions. But another trend is emerging: In some states, most of the people who seek physician-assisted suicide are not married.
According to reports out of Colorado, of the 56 people prescribed suicide drugs last year, 31 — about 55% — were not married.
The Oregon Health Authority reports that about 53% of the people who have taken their own lives since the state legalized physician-assisted suicide in 1998 were not married.
And Washington State reports that in 2016, 57% of those who sought assisted suicide also were not married at the time of death.
This raises a serious question: What roles do marriage or loneliness play in decisions about physician-assisted suicide?
A 2004 study published in the British Medical Journal found,
In general, widowed, single, and divorced elderly people have a higher risk of suicide, with marriage seeming to be protective. Bereavement is also associated with attempted and completed suicide in elderly people—men seem especially vulnerable after the loss of a spouse, with a relative risk three times that of married men.
Although the study noted some exceptions, married adults appeared less likely to commit suicide, overall.
So what does this mean for physician-assisted suicide?
Proponents generally claim physician-assisted suicide helps terminally ill people end their excruciating pain and suffering.
In practice, however, pain and suffering don’t seem to be the reasons people opt for assisted suicide.
A study conducted in Oregon in 1999 concluded, “the decision to request and use a prescription for lethal medications . . . was associated with views on autonomy and control, not with fear of intractable pain or concern about financial loss.” I would add that based on other reports and studies, loneliness also seems to be a factor.
People need to understand what actually drives the demand for assisted suicide. Christians also need to understand why there is nothing compassionate about helping a person take his or her own life.
As we have said time and time again, being pro-life is about much more than opposing abortion. We do not eliminate suffering by eliminating people who are suffering. We must respect the sanctity of human life at the end of life as well as at the beginning.
Photo Credit: By Jeff Belmonte from Cuiabá, Brazil (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.
In December attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom filed a lawsuit in federal court against Arkansas State University after the school attempted to suppress free speech by its students.
ADF says the school has tried to limit speech to sanctioned “free speech” zones. The university’s policy reportedly restricts free speech to 1% of its Jonesboro campus.
Last year, when a student wanted to set up a table outside the student union to generate interest in forming a chapter of the group Turning Point USA on campus, a school administrator stopped her, citing the university’s speech policy.
Arkansas State University asked a court to dismiss ADF’s lawsuit. Today a federal judge rejected ASU’s request, meaning the lawsuit can go forward.
In a statement, Alliance Defending Freedom said,
A federal court Friday rejected Arkansas State University’s request to throw out a lawsuit that challenges the constitutionality of the ASU five-campus system’s restrictive speech policy. Among other things, the policy limits speech to roughly one percent of the Jonesboro campus.
Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys filed the lawsuit in December of last year on behalf of the organizers of a student organization, Turning Point USA, a non-partisan organization that educates students about the importance of fiscal responsibility, free markets, and limited government.
“Public universities can’t function properly as the ‘marketplace of ideas’ when university officials muzzle student free speech,” said ADF Senior Counsel Tyson Langhofer, director of the ADF Center for Academic Freedom. “Arkansas State’s speech policies contain provisions that courts have repeatedly struck down as unconstitutional at other schools, so it was fully appropriate for the court to reject the university’s request to throw out this lawsuit. The university can demonstrate its dedication to the free exchange of ideas by modifying its policies to comport with the First Amendment.”
When ASU student Ashlyn Hoggard and another individual with Turning Point USA attempted to set up a table outside the student union last year to generate interest in forming a chapter on campus, an administrator immediately stopped them, citing the university’s speech policy.
That policy unconstitutionally restricts speech activities to small zones on campus that total about one percent of the campus, requires advance permission for students to use the speech zones, and gives university officials free reign to restrict the content and viewpoint of student speech.
In the opinion and order denying Arkansas State’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit, Turning Point USA at Arkansas State University v. The Trustees of Arkansas State University, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas wrote, “The university’s freedom of expression policy requires Hoggard to seek and receive the university’s permission before she is allowed to exercise first amendment freedoms on campus. The policy is a prior restraint on her first amendment rights, as interpreted by the Supreme Court, against which there is a ‘heavy presumption’ of unconstitutionality.”
Ethan Nobles, one of more than 3,200 attorneys allied with ADF, is serving as local counsel on behalf of Turning Point USA.
College campuses used to be places where students could freely exchange ideas. However, we are increasingly seeing attempts by school administrators to restrict speech on campus — especially speech by conservative and pro-life students.
Alliance Defending Freedom has an excellent track record litigating cases like this one in Jonesboro. Given that history — and today’s decision — it seems likely the school’s anti-speech policies will not hold up in court.
In February the Medical Marijuana Commission announced five companies authorized to grow marijuana in Arkansas. However, this week a judge said the process commissioners followed to pick those companies did not comply with the law.
The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette writes,
In a 28-page decision, Judge Wendell Griffen issued a preliminary injunction barring the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission from issuing five cannabis-growing licenses. The injunction is a continuance of a temporary restraining order Griffen issued a week ago, just hours before the commission planned to formally award the licenses to five companies.
Wednesday’s order, however, went a step further, declaring the commission’s rankings of the 95 growing license applications “null and void.”
The Medical Marijuana Commission reviewed and ranked applications to grow marijuana; the five highest-ranked applicants received cultivation licenses.
In his decision, Judge Griffen wrote that the process defied due process and the rule of law.
Photo By Cannabis Training University (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.