By Judie Brown
I have a very personal interest in a proposed initiative that is on the November 4 election ballot in Washington State. You see 38 years ago, my husband and I went door to door, begging people to vote no on Referendum 20, a proposal that would have, and in fact, did liberalize the law regarding abortion in that state. Pro-life Americans lost that vote by a very narrow margin, and we all know what occurred in the intervening years. It was then and still is a bloody war on the most vulnerable members of the human family.
But now, the voters in Washington have to make a decision again regarding who should live and who should die. And as the Coalition Against Assisted Suicide makes perfectly clear, Initiative 1000 has huge problems, which is why they are working night and day to encourage voters in the state to vote against the Initiative. Make sure to check out the powerful ad on the Coalition's web site, featuring recently deceased Barbara Ann Wagner.
For starters, Eileen Geller, R.N., B.S.N., points out what could and probably will happen if this Initiative becomes law:
• Spouses and family members do not need to be told before – or after – a loved one is given lethal drugs.
• Persons suffering from depression can be given a lethal overdose without any psychological counseling or treatment – nothing in the Initiative requires an assessment of potential depression by a qualified professional.
• Health care insurers and HMO's could exploit I-1000 to save costs, since a bottle of lethal drugs costs far less than other end-of-life care.
• Heirs to a patient's estate are allowed to participate in the assisted suicide and to witness the request for lethal drugs. This would contravene existing practice governing wills and estates, a scenario that worries law enforcement because of the real potential for abuse.
Martin Sheen, a well-known Hollywood actor and Democrat, has seen through the lies and has helped the Coalition by recording a radio ad, which will hopefully resonate with the voters on several levels. But in order to run the ad as frequently as possible, as we all know, funding is required.
And as you might have guessed, that is really not a problem for the pro-death forces. According to a report compiled by the International Anti-Euthanasia Task Force, more than $3 million has been raised by the proponents of death on request. IAETF makes this clear:
This is the fourth highest all time record for money raised in support of any initiative campaign in Washington State.
Of that amount, assisted-suicide advocacy groups and spokesperson, former Governor Booth Gardner, his family and his "Legacy Committee" have given cash donations of $2,032,164.
That is more than double the total receipts of $874,646 reported over the same time period by the "Coalition against Assisted Suicide."
Frightening, isn't it? It seems that those who favor killing are always able to raise more money for their agenda than those who value life, respect the human person and regard the most vulnerable members of the human family as the most precious.
Booth Gardner, an heir to the Weyerhaeuser fortune, was governor for two terms in Washington. When he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, he chose to become, according to news reports, a crusader for the "right to die":
Although Gardner backs the initiative, he told The New York Times Magazine that he sees it as a step toward a more comprehensive law that would allow people with diseases like Parkinson's that are debilitating, but not necessarily terminal, to choose physician-assisted suicide.
In other words, he views Initiative 1000 as simply a foot in the door, to soften up the people of Washington so that more "rights" to schedule one's death will become acceptable in the coming years. That's always the trouble with the agenda of the death peddlers: Given the least little crack in the legal framework, they will drill a hole large enough for as many deaths as they deem desirable. That's how it went with abortion. Will it be the same with euthanasia?
I have to tell you, complacency is the last thing needed in Washington right now. A recent news report on suicides in a Veterans Administration hospital in Spokane, Washington makes the point much better than I can. At the Spokane facility, a suicide prevention coordinator has been appointed to oversee mandatory suicide awareness training for every hospital employee.
You see, in this year alone there have been six suicides in that hospital. That's up from two the previous year. Alex Schadenberg wrote in his commentary on the Spokane situation,
I fully endorse the need for a suicide prevention coordinator in hospitals and long-term care facilities to properly care for people who are experiencing depression, mental illness or psychological problems.
But isn't there going to be a problem if Washington State voters decide to support the I-1000 assisted suicide Initiative?
Will the staff of this hospital be forced to abandon a patient who has received a legal lethal dose to their autonomy, even though that person has become depressed and mentally incompetent?
Will legalizing assisted suicide in Washington State not create an inequality among the patients in hospitals, whereby one patient is given the green light to go ahead and ingest a death cocktail while the next patient is discouraged to commit suicide, through the provision of counseling and anti-depressant medications?
Washington has become a testing ground once again for the struggle between respect for the human person and self-satisfaction at any cost.
Protecting the vulnerable, the ill and the dying is a never-ending struggle for each of us who realize that a human being's life, including one's own life, is a gift from God and not a thing to be used or abused at will. So, in this politically volatile year, I believe it is time for every person with the right to vote and a properly formed conscience to assess carefully what President Ronald Reagan once said: What America needs is spiritual renewal and reconciliation – first, man with God, and then man with man.
Judie Brown is president of American Life League and a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life.