California’s “Right-to-Die” Law Rejects the Value of Human Life

By Danielle DiQuattro

Six months ago, California became the fifth state to pass a “Right-to Die” law. The End of Life Option Act “allows patients with less than six months to live to request end-of-life drugs from their doctors.” Since its passage, physicians have written 191 prescriptions for these drugs and 111 patients have utilized patient assisted suicide (PAS).

Proponents of the California bill justify legalizing PAS by claiming that patients should have the right to chose to no longer endure the pain of worsening conditions and becoming dependent on others.

Heritage Foundation senior research fellow in public policy, Ryan Anderson refutes this “masquerade of compassion” in an extended report on PAS. He claims that in fact such laws “endanger the weak and vulnerable” since they do not require that a doctor be present when the patient takes the prescription. Others, even family members, can easily manipulate or force the ill individual to take the drugs.

This in turn “compromises the family and intergenerational commitments” because it reinforces the perverse belief that if you are a burden, you do not have value. As Gilbert Meilaender points out in his article “I Want to Burden my Loved Ones,” we all are burdens to our parents when we enter this world and we therefore must remember our duty to care for our parents as they leave this world.

Finally, such laws “corrupt the practice of medicine” by incentivizing doctors to choose “a cheap, quick fix” instead of upholding the Hippocratic Oath to never harm his patients, shattering the level of trust between the patient and his/her physician.

Physician assisted suicide perverts the relationships between doctors, patients, and their families and fundamentally undermines the truth that all people have intrinsic value and a right to life. From our Revolution, to the Civil War, and to this day, Americans have fought to preserve this truth. We must continue rejecting the claim that the old, sick and weak do not have dignity worth preserving.

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