Proponents of assisted suicide don’t like for people to call it that. As anyone familiar with the debate over legalization of assisted suicide knows, they prefer to call it “death with dignity” instead. It sounds much more pleasant, doesn’t it? Instead of having the negative connotations that suicide carries, proponents can spin a tale of dying in a “dignified” way. Never before has suicide ever been considered dignified, but now they’re trying their hardest to convince people that suicide equals dignity — and they aren’t happy when people don’t play along.
Assisted suicide is currently under debate in Colorado, where lawmakers are considering legalizing it. A local news station, 9NEWS, has been covering the issue in an unbiased manner. But that wasn’t good enough for assisted suicide proponents. They complained that 9NEWS was calling it “assisted suicide,” and insisted that 9NEWS started using the “correct” phrase. 9NEWS refused.
In a statement, they explained that supporters of assisted suicide legalization have contacted them and asked that they stop referring to it as assisted suicide, and call it “medical aid in dying” instead. 9NEWS explained that while they have no formal position on the issue, their job was to report the facts in simple, straightforward language, and therefore, will not stop using the word suicide:
Supporters of the measure argue the word “suicide” is too friendly to the opposition because it may make you think of someone who ends their life for no good reason.
In contrast, the proposed law does require a reason: you’d need to be diagnosed with a terminal illness to get a life-ending prescription.
But in plain English, that’s still “suicide.”
They pointed out the Merriam Webster definition of assisted suicide: “The act or an instance of taking one’s own life voluntarily and intentionally especially by a person of years of discretion and of sound mind. The Oxford dictionary defines it as the action of killing oneself intentionally, and Dictionary.com says it is the intentional taking of one’s own life.
Supporters of this proposal want to change the dictionary definition of suicide. They might succeed one day.
Changes in the law can end up changing our language.
If you don’t believe us, find an old dictionary and look up the word “marriage.”
But it’s not our job in the news business to change the dictionary.
It’s our job to use plain language that’s current and accurate– and that’s what we’ll keep doing.
It’s not surprising that assisted suicide advocates are trying to hide how the reality of what they’re fighting to legalize. After all, most people see suicide as an abhorrent, tragic thing, and rightly so. Very rarely does anyone cheer on suicide. People don’t often encourage other people to take their own lives. If assisted suicide advocates want to convince people that killing oneself could be a positive choice, then they’ll need to find some better phrasing for it, thus the platitudes about “death with dignity” and “medical aid in dying.” Calling it what it is, though — suicide — brings to mind the horror of taking one’s own life.
Brittany Maynard, the cancer patient who became the poster girl for the assisted suicide movement, tried to claim that her death would be from her disease, and not suicide, because she wanted to live. She just didn’t want to live with, and possibly die from, brain cancer. Maynard herself refused to call it suicide, saying instead that it was “aid in dying.” But what she did was commit suicide. It doesn’t matter what the reasoning behind her decision was; it doesn’t change the reality of what actually happened. She killed herself. And assisted suicide advocates, like it or not, are fighting for more people to do the same. They are fighting to encourage people to kill themselves, and wrapping it up in a bow of fake dignity. No wonder they don’t want to call it what it is; facing the reality of what they’re actually doing would make anyone feel uncomfortable.
JJ Hanson, a Marine with the same kind of cancer that Maynard had, spoke openly about how he found it insulting to tell people with terminal illnesses that they should embrace suicide as the more dignified way to die. “I was told you don’t have an option. You can die dignified if you commit suicide. Whoa, wait a second. The whole terminology is flipping on its head. If you give up and you don’t fight, somehow you’re compassionate and dignified,” he said. “But if you want to fight and you want to live, you lack compassion and dignity. To me it just doesn’t make sense. It’s kind of a reflection of where our society is.”
Of course, the assisted suicide movement isn’t motivated by compassion to help terminally ill people die a more “dignified” death. They have their own agenda to push. Maynard, for example, campaigned on behalf of Compassion and Choices, formerly called the Hemlock Society. They don’t just want people who are terminally ill to be able to kill themselves. They want this for those who are mentally ill, disabled, or elderly. They don’t just advocate for a peaceful death aided by doctor-prescribed medication; they encourage “VSED”: voluntary stop eating and drinking. And they encourage it for “people who are not seriously ill, but are simply ‘done’.”
This is the rotten underbelly of the assisted suicide movement that they want covered up with compassionate-sounding catchphrases purposely designed to persuade people to embrace suicide. This news outlet is to be commended for refusing to play word games, and instead call this what it really is.