Assisted Suicide: What Now?

One of the saddest outcomes of last Tuesday’s election was the passage of Washington state’s Initiative 1000.

Now that Washington has become the second American state to legalize assisted suicide, terminally ill patients there will experience the same pressures as in neighboring Oregon to end their lives prematurely.

What does this new high-water mark for the culture of death portend for America as a whole? Wesley Smith, one of the nation’s leading opponents of euthanasia, has posted some reflections on that question today here at the First Things website.

“Beyond the politics of the thing, the passage of I-1000 begs a far more fundamental question: Why now, when for the first time in human history the pain and discomforting symptoms of serious illness can be substantially alleviated, do so many find mercy killing and suicide so appealing?” Smith writes. “Think of it as a symptom rather than a cause. The euthanasia movement reflects a profound nihilism that has been spreading like a cancer throughout the West for the past hundred years.”

— Tom McFeely