Massachusetts is voting down assisted suicide

As we discussed, Colorado and Washington have legalized marijuana.  Also  Maryland and Maine have legalized gay marriage, the first time that step has been taken by popular referendum.  But Massachusetts, to its credit, is voting down a measure that would legalize physician-assisted suicide.

In Massachusetts, ballots are still being tallied, but it appears voters have rejected a move to legalize physician-assisted suicide for the terminally ill.

“My late husband Sen. Edward Kennedy called quality, affordable health care for all the cause of his life,” Victoria Kennedy, the widow of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., wrote in a Cape Code op-ed.

“Question 2 turns his vision of health care for all on its head by asking us to endorse patient suicide — not patient care — as our public policy for dealing with pain and the financial burdens of care at the end of life,” she said.

With about 93 percent of the votes counted, the measure is failing by 51 to 49.

via Pot Initiative Passes, Assisted Suicide Failing – Politics – CBN News – Christian News 24-7 – CBN.com.

I appreciate how we have here in Mrs. Kennedy’s remarks a pro-life argument cast in liberal terms.

I have never understood what is so liberal about believing in abortion and euthanasia.   As we saw with the Democratic national convention, liberals will go on and on about protecting the weak, the vulnerable, and the marginalized, only to throw out all of that rhetoric when it comes to protecting the weakest, the most vulnerable, and the most marginalized of all, namely, unwanted children.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • helen

    I have never understood what is so liberal about believing in abortion and euthanasia. As we saw with the Democratic national convention, liberals will go on and on about protecting the weak, the vulnerable, and the marginalized, only to throw out all of that rhetoric when it comes to protecting the weakest, the most vulnerable, and the most marginalized of all, namely, unwanted children.

    And inconvenient old folks who are “spending the children’s inheritance” by not dying!

  • helen

    I have never understood what is so liberal about believing in abortion and euthanasia. As we saw with the Democratic national convention, liberals will go on and on about protecting the weak, the vulnerable, and the marginalized, only to throw out all of that rhetoric when it comes to protecting the weakest, the most vulnerable, and the most marginalized of all, namely, unwanted children.

    And inconvenient old folks who are “spending the children’s inheritance” by not dying!

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    Good to hear this. A small port in an otherwise massive storm of ungodliness.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    Good to hear this. A small port in an otherwise massive storm of ungodliness.

  • Steve Billingsley

    There is a legacy of truly pro-life liberal politicians (Sargent Shriver and Bob Casey Sr. come to mind) that the Democratic Party has forgotten. I believe that if they rediscovered that legacy it would only help them electorally. As a registered Republican, from a purely Machiavellian standpoint I guess I could say I am glad that they haven’t, but America would be a much better place if a legitimately pro-life plurality emerged in the Democratic Party.

  • Steve Billingsley

    There is a legacy of truly pro-life liberal politicians (Sargent Shriver and Bob Casey Sr. come to mind) that the Democratic Party has forgotten. I believe that if they rediscovered that legacy it would only help them electorally. As a registered Republican, from a purely Machiavellian standpoint I guess I could say I am glad that they haven’t, but America would be a much better place if a legitimately pro-life plurality emerged in the Democratic Party.

  • Michael B.

    On the abortion issue, start with assuming that the embryo is a child. People are for legalized abortion because they believe that the state doesn’t have a right to keep a woman pregnant against her will. Abortion is a procedure that people can do it at home (albeit very unsafely.) Do you prosecute a woman if she does that, or do you compel her to gestate against her will? Why doesn’t she have to denote an organ to her children if they need one and can’t get one?

    Also, the belief that an embryo is a person has major implications beyond the abortion debate. According to one study, 31% all conceptions end in miscarriage. Are these not “people” dying? Why aren’t we donating money and setting aside government research to address this major problem? Compare the number of deaths here to say, AIDS or breast cancer. Here, it seems that a fetus is just a fetus, but bring women’s rights up, and all of a sudden the fetus is a person.

  • Michael B.

    On the abortion issue, start with assuming that the embryo is a child. People are for legalized abortion because they believe that the state doesn’t have a right to keep a woman pregnant against her will. Abortion is a procedure that people can do it at home (albeit very unsafely.) Do you prosecute a woman if she does that, or do you compel her to gestate against her will? Why doesn’t she have to denote an organ to her children if they need one and can’t get one?

    Also, the belief that an embryo is a person has major implications beyond the abortion debate. According to one study, 31% all conceptions end in miscarriage. Are these not “people” dying? Why aren’t we donating money and setting aside government research to address this major problem? Compare the number of deaths here to say, AIDS or breast cancer. Here, it seems that a fetus is just a fetus, but bring women’s rights up, and all of a sudden the fetus is a person.

  • Tim T.

    Radical feminists are a powerful, top-tier member of the very diverse Democrat coalition, and personal sovereignty of the woman (nobody, but nobody, can ever tell them what to do) is Fundamental Principle #1 for them. In this context, being told that they *must* carry a pregnancy to term is unconscionable. Appeals to the personhood of the baby are irrelevant.

    Dems don’t want to lose the radical feminists, so unfettered access to abortion has become a Fundamental Principle of the party as well.

  • Tim T.

    Radical feminists are a powerful, top-tier member of the very diverse Democrat coalition, and personal sovereignty of the woman (nobody, but nobody, can ever tell them what to do) is Fundamental Principle #1 for them. In this context, being told that they *must* carry a pregnancy to term is unconscionable. Appeals to the personhood of the baby are irrelevant.

    Dems don’t want to lose the radical feminists, so unfettered access to abortion has become a Fundamental Principle of the party as well.

  • Mary

    #4 Michael B

    http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=40784

    Just one of many sites that explore the research into the causes of miscarriage. Note that people are donating money and the government is researching this.

  • Mary

    #4 Michael B

    http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=40784

    Just one of many sites that explore the research into the causes of miscarriage. Note that people are donating money and the government is researching this.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Veith said:

    I have never understood what is so liberal about believing in abortion and euthanasia.

    Probably because you don’t share the same starting points as liberals.

    Doctor-assisted suicide isn’t really euthanasia. At the least, it needs to be qualified as voluntary euthanasia. Without the word “voluntary”, it sounds like — perhaps intentionally — the patient is being killed without respect for his wishes. That would indeed be a violation of the tenet to protect the weak. But, if we assume that all such deaths are truly voluntary (admittedly, that assumption isn’t necessarily completely warranted), then that concern goes away, and this becomes a question of whether someone can do what they want as long as it doesn’t affect other people. That, of course, is appealing to liberals … sometimes. I won’t go into the instances of when they readily abandon that principle.

    In order to understand liberals’ approach to abortion, you also have to make an assumption — a rather fundamental one. And that is that fetuses are not people, are not humans. Once you make that assumption, then abortion becomes an issue like euthanasia, over whether a person can choose what to do with her body or not.

    Now, obviously, that assumption is not one most pro-lifers would be willing to grant. And I agree. But it surprises me how often people don’t realize that’s the sticking point.

    Ask Michael B. He certainly refuses to concede that fetuses are humans or people. Frankly, I don’t think he’s really considered the argument. He can’t.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Veith said:

    I have never understood what is so liberal about believing in abortion and euthanasia.

    Probably because you don’t share the same starting points as liberals.

    Doctor-assisted suicide isn’t really euthanasia. At the least, it needs to be qualified as voluntary euthanasia. Without the word “voluntary”, it sounds like — perhaps intentionally — the patient is being killed without respect for his wishes. That would indeed be a violation of the tenet to protect the weak. But, if we assume that all such deaths are truly voluntary (admittedly, that assumption isn’t necessarily completely warranted), then that concern goes away, and this becomes a question of whether someone can do what they want as long as it doesn’t affect other people. That, of course, is appealing to liberals … sometimes. I won’t go into the instances of when they readily abandon that principle.

    In order to understand liberals’ approach to abortion, you also have to make an assumption — a rather fundamental one. And that is that fetuses are not people, are not humans. Once you make that assumption, then abortion becomes an issue like euthanasia, over whether a person can choose what to do with her body or not.

    Now, obviously, that assumption is not one most pro-lifers would be willing to grant. And I agree. But it surprises me how often people don’t realize that’s the sticking point.

    Ask Michael B. He certainly refuses to concede that fetuses are humans or people. Frankly, I don’t think he’s really considered the argument. He can’t.

  • Med Student

    To further expand on tODD’s point:
    There are very important legal and terminology distinctions that are made. Physician assisted suicide means the physician provides the means for the patient to kill himself, but does not directly cause the patient’s death because the patient physically has to do the deed himself (i.e. take the pills). Voluntary euthanasia (which is not legal anywhere in this country) means giving consent for the physician to directly cause your death (i.e. inject you with a drug). Non-voluntary euthanasia is still with consent, but through a proxy (i.e. a parent giving permission for a doctor to give a lethal drug to an infant). Involuntary euthanasia is without permission and is also known as murder.
    The only form that has ever been legalized, and was on the ballot in Massachusetts, is the physician-assisted form, where the doctor provides the means but the patient has to perform the act. So I can understand a libertarian argument that a person should be able to hasten his death without having to resort to using violent means like a gun to get it done. I don’t think physicians have any business being involved anymore so than they have any business being involved in legal executions, but many disagree.
    That’s probably way more information than anyone here really wants, but I just had a class on the topic this week and thought I’d share what I learned.

  • Med Student

    To further expand on tODD’s point:
    There are very important legal and terminology distinctions that are made. Physician assisted suicide means the physician provides the means for the patient to kill himself, but does not directly cause the patient’s death because the patient physically has to do the deed himself (i.e. take the pills). Voluntary euthanasia (which is not legal anywhere in this country) means giving consent for the physician to directly cause your death (i.e. inject you with a drug). Non-voluntary euthanasia is still with consent, but through a proxy (i.e. a parent giving permission for a doctor to give a lethal drug to an infant). Involuntary euthanasia is without permission and is also known as murder.
    The only form that has ever been legalized, and was on the ballot in Massachusetts, is the physician-assisted form, where the doctor provides the means but the patient has to perform the act. So I can understand a libertarian argument that a person should be able to hasten his death without having to resort to using violent means like a gun to get it done. I don’t think physicians have any business being involved anymore so than they have any business being involved in legal executions, but many disagree.
    That’s probably way more information than anyone here really wants, but I just had a class on the topic this week and thought I’d share what I learned.

  • helen

    There is such a thing as refusing extreme measures to extend life… e.g., a quad by-pass when you know you have something else wrong that makes it doubtful you’ll survive the surgery. Or CPR when you are dying of cancer anyway.
    I’m not sure euthanasia would ever be really voluntary, a patient is usually at the mercy of his/her caretakers, and may be led to feel it’s better to be out of their way, if only to empty the bed for the next seriously ill person. Children, if they have any time at all, may easily forget that the parent spent a lot of time feeding them and changing diapers, when it’s the parent who needs help.

    We have some ideas that really don’t match reality. One is “No parent should have to bury a child.” [It happens more often than most people think. When it's said to the parent, (however kindly it's meant) it sounds like, "You shouldn't have lived this long ."]
    Another is believing the pictures in AARP ads, of retired couples living the good life, dining out, playing golf, using those frequent flier miles because they frequently fly. Nice, but the end reality is often widows, two to a bedroom, staring at grey walls. If they came in with a mind there will be nothing to keep it going very long.
    In either situation a sympathetic person with a “pill to cure everything” may be listened to.

    But is that the way Christians ought to handle the end of their lives??

  • helen

    There is such a thing as refusing extreme measures to extend life… e.g., a quad by-pass when you know you have something else wrong that makes it doubtful you’ll survive the surgery. Or CPR when you are dying of cancer anyway.
    I’m not sure euthanasia would ever be really voluntary, a patient is usually at the mercy of his/her caretakers, and may be led to feel it’s better to be out of their way, if only to empty the bed for the next seriously ill person. Children, if they have any time at all, may easily forget that the parent spent a lot of time feeding them and changing diapers, when it’s the parent who needs help.

    We have some ideas that really don’t match reality. One is “No parent should have to bury a child.” [It happens more often than most people think. When it's said to the parent, (however kindly it's meant) it sounds like, "You shouldn't have lived this long ."]
    Another is believing the pictures in AARP ads, of retired couples living the good life, dining out, playing golf, using those frequent flier miles because they frequently fly. Nice, but the end reality is often widows, two to a bedroom, staring at grey walls. If they came in with a mind there will be nothing to keep it going very long.
    In either situation a sympathetic person with a “pill to cure everything” may be listened to.

    But is that the way Christians ought to handle the end of their lives??

  • Steve Botts

    Protecting the weakest, most vulnerable and most marginalized? How about the sick and elderly, those without healthcare, the innocent few on death row, the prisoners who have become widgets in an inhuman and inhumane prison system, the victims of mindless wars and the unwanted children who do make it out of the womb, only to find a world stacked against the weak, vulnerable and marginalized? I am amazed at the hypocrisy of those who call themselves “pro life,” and yet fall on the side of suffering and death in every area but one.

  • Steve Botts

    Protecting the weakest, most vulnerable and most marginalized? How about the sick and elderly, those without healthcare, the innocent few on death row, the prisoners who have become widgets in an inhuman and inhumane prison system, the victims of mindless wars and the unwanted children who do make it out of the womb, only to find a world stacked against the weak, vulnerable and marginalized? I am amazed at the hypocrisy of those who call themselves “pro life,” and yet fall on the side of suffering and death in every area but one.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    As I said, Steve, I know liberals are sensitive to all of those other cases of suffering and injustice. My question is why liberals who care about all of those things you eloquently mentioned don’t mind and even support the practice of abortion, which kills millions upon millions of children in the womb? Isn’t that hypocritical too?

    How about this? Let’s propose a new coalition that would care about everyone you mentioned here–doing whatever it takes to help them–AND to ban abortion. Would you join this coalition?

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    As I said, Steve, I know liberals are sensitive to all of those other cases of suffering and injustice. My question is why liberals who care about all of those things you eloquently mentioned don’t mind and even support the practice of abortion, which kills millions upon millions of children in the womb? Isn’t that hypocritical too?

    How about this? Let’s propose a new coalition that would care about everyone you mentioned here–doing whatever it takes to help them–AND to ban abortion. Would you join this coalition?


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