Analysis

Shock claim: Assisted suicide is needed so women won’t have ‘burden’ of caring for the sick

coma, New Jersey, assisted suicide

The assisted suicide lobby has long argued that doctors should be able to kill their patients so people can avoid what they presume might be a long, painful death. This, euthanasia advocates argue, is a more “dignified” way to die. But for Dignity in Dying Scotland, there’s another reason to quickly get rid of those who are elderly, sick, or disabled: so they won’t be a burden on women.

A new report from the assisted suicide advocacy group claims that this is a so-called “feminist issue.” Ally Thomson, director of Dignity in Dying Scotland, spoke to Tracey Bryce for the Sunday Post about it, saying, “Women have made their point clear – the law in Scotland is not working for them. They witness needless suffering at the end of life and are anxious about their own deaths given the lack of choice available to them in Scotland.” She added, “They also overwhelmingly support a change in the law on assisted dying for terminally ill adults. We need to listen to women when they tell us that the current options available to people facing a bad death are not in any way suitable alternatives to safe and compassionate laws that allow people a dignified death.”

Bryce herself echoed the claims made by Dignity in Dying Scotland’s report, which claims that it is anti-feminist to allow people to die naturally, rather than to actively kill them. “Recent figures show that more than half of Scotland’s 759,000 adult carers are female,” Bryce wrote. “Many have had to nurse relatives with terminal illnesses towards the end of their lives and spoke about the pain and suffering they witnessed, and how they wished there was something they could have done to end the suffering, or ensure a peaceful, dignified death. The report also highlights that 82% of NHS nurses are female, meaning more women are exposed to the effects of lack of end-of-life choice.”

READ: Canadian woman loses battle to prevent husband of 48 years from death by euthanasia

This particular take — that assisted suicide is necessary to spare the anguish of those who have to care for people at the end of their lives — is particularly malicious, because it plays right into the mindset that pressures so many to end their own lives.

Data has repeatedly shown that people most often undergo assisted suicide due to “loss of autonomy” — not fear of a painful death. Numerous other studies, including those published in well-respected medical journals, have found that people seek out assisted suicide because they are hopeless, are afraid of being a burden, have little to no support, and are depressed.

And the assisted suicide lobby is, with this report, essentially telling these people that they’re right, and that it would be better for them to die.

If the issue is truly of one of preventing unbearable pain or caregiver burnout, there are numerous ways to help with this which don’t involve killing the vulnerable. Improvements can be made to hospice and palliative care, better support systems can be put into place, patients can be given more options for pain management, and more options can be given for mental health care. All of these would directly address the problems which lead people to feeling that death is their best option.

People who feel hopeless, depressed, and suicidal should never have those thoughts encouraged and abetted, as long as they fit into the right vulnerable class. A young and healthy person’s death is viewed as something to be prevented at all costs, but if the person is elderly, sick, disabled, or dying, their death is seen as something to hurry up and get over with — especially to spare their largely female caregivers pain. A mentality like this can only lead to serious tragedy.

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