Guest Column: Whose lives should be preserved and who are those that would be “better off dead?”

Fred Deutsch is president of South Dakota Right to Life and a member of the coalition South Dakota Citizens Against Assisted Suicide. Their mission is “To educate and mobilize South Dakota citizens to vote against any attempt in the state to legitimize or legalize assisted suicide, which is aiding the intentional death of another person.” Deutsch is also a former State Representative from District 4

Legalizing assisted-suicide creates two classes of human beings, those whose lives should be preserved and those who would be “better off dead.”

The line between these two categories, contrary to those pushing this measure, is very arbitrary. Experience from the few other states and countries that have legalized AS testify to the truth – once assisted-suicide is accepted by society as normal, the momentum to expand assisted-suicide becomes relentless, resulting in increasing number being killed.

Reflect for a moment and ask yourself – do you actually doubt this would happen?

The ballot measure is so shot full of holes that when introduced in 23 states this year, it was rejected by each one of them. That was the case even in states run by Democrats, including Connecticut, Rhode Island and Hawaii. This is not about Democrats versus Republicans.
The key to the politics of assisted-suicide lies in accepting that individuals should have the right to kill themselves, and that the state should permit physicians to intentionally assist patients to kill themselves.

If passed, most householders will sooner or later make life-decisions cognizant of the new law. The drama of assisted-suicide without social damage is a seductive yet false dream.

The justifications offered by the bill’s advocates – that the measure contains safeguards that protect society are not only blatantly false but miss the point entirely. What matters is the core intention of the law. What matters is the ethical threshold being crossed. What matters is that under South Dakota law there will be people whose lives we honor and those we believe are better off dead.

A very real concern includes patient financial pressures to choose the option of assisted-suicide instead of treatment, especially if their insurer covers life-ending medication but not life-extending therapies. This has been already been documented in other states.

If this measure passes, the expectations of patients and families will change. The culture of dying will gradually permeate into our medical, health, social and institutional arrangements. Assisted-suicide stands for everything a truly civil society should stand against. A change of this kind will affect our entire community, not just a small number of dying patients. It is silly to assert that patients will not feel pressure to end their lives if this measure becomes law.

Opposition to assisted-suicide is about the civil ethic that should be at the heart of our society. In public life it is the principles that matter. They define the norms and values of a society and in this case the principles concern our view of human life itself.

The critical issue is that assisted-suicide has implications that extend far beyond any one individual and his or her right to choose. To grant a few the right to assisted-suicide or euthanasia means the rights of many vulnerable others are compromised

Faced with a new option, patients will have to choose to burden their family with their care. Thoughts of being a burden to society, using up all the money for medical expenses, and not feeling worthy to live will combine to suggest the patient should choose to end their life.

Legalizing assisted-suicide may give peace of mind to a few people with terminal illness who may be unaware of the resources available to them, but it has huge negative societal implications and consequences.

Assisted suicide is not the answer to the complex problems people face at the end of life. It creates more problems and injustices than it solves.

The Facebook Page for Citizens Against Assisted Suicide is at

4 Replies to “Guest Column: Whose lives should be preserved and who are those that would be “better off dead?””

  1. Anne Beal

    There’s an interesting article out now about euthanasia for the mentally ill in Belgium, which describes how one Adriana Geerts accompanied her mentally ill sister to the euthanasia clinic even though she was personally opposed to her sister being put down. Her sister wasn’t terminally ill just mentally ill and wanted to die.
    And, apparently, wanted Adriana there for emotional support.

    Why can’t we leave the health care providers out of this and just hold public hangings? How about a firing squad?

    1. Jaa Dee

      “Her sister wasn’t terminally ill just mentally ill and wanted to die.
      And, apparently, wanted Adriana there for emotional support. “—How would that be any of your business? If she wanted her sister for support then wouldn’t you think her sister knew hr better than anybody else?

      ” just hold public hangings? How about a firing squad?”– What a stupid attempt at an analogy

      1. Anne Beal

        Why make health care providers do this? Why not just make your sister put a pillow over your face and suffocate you? As long as their are witnesses who can attest that you wanted to die, why not have a relative kill you? Or your family could take you out into the yard, tie you to a tree and shoot you? Why involve a healthcare provider? If it’s morally acceptable the family should do it. Why not?

        Because it’s barbaric and you know it, that’s why not.

  2. anonymous

    If someone has six weeks to live and Doctors sign off on that, why should a patient suffer? Is suffering important to you?


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