Statement to the Michigan State Senate Judiciary Committee on Assisted Suicide

from Alfred Lemmo

Those of us who oppose doctor-assisted suicide are often attacked as interfering with personal or private matters relating to individual autonomy, and for attempting to force our own narrow religious viewpoints on the whole of society. Such arguments echo the rhetoric raised some thirty years ago to justify abortion. Many of the techniques used by the perpetrators of that horrifically successful campaign are also in evidence in the current drive to put the sick out of our misery. I wish to describe some of these techniques and the basic destructive philosophy that drives both of these death-dealing practices.

Many in the media have typically described organizations opposing euthanasia or doctor-assisted suicide as anti-abortion, even when covering their involvement in these related issues. This is in spite of the organizations' preferred self-descriptive terminology of pro-life or right-to-life which encompasses both abortion and euthanasia. This serves the media's agenda of reinforcing the negative image they have created for our people as meddlesome busybodies, interfering in the most private and difficult decisions people face. It employs the marketing principle that no one buys a product - in this case ideas - from people they don't like. Our opponents regard even the idea of defending innocent and helpless life as somehow antiquated, sentimental or even oppressive, based in a narrow religious point of view. My purpose here is to demonstrate that it is such proponents and apologists for abortion, euthanasia and doctor-assisted suicide who are forcing their religious viewpoint on the rest of us. They are proceeding from a philosophical viewpoint that is the basis of a false religion - a cult if you will - that has been the root cause of nearly every degradation that humanity has ever suffered. It is also totally opposed to the philosophy on which this nation was built.

Our nation was founded on the belief that human rights - beginning with the right to life - are intrinsic with human life. This is found in both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, especially in the Ninth and Tenth Amendments. The Declaration speaks of truths we hold self-evident which include that we are endowed with our inalienable rights to life and liberty by our Creator. Therefore, these rights are inherent with human life from the time we are created as individuals of our species. In the Constitution, We the People grant rights to the government rather than the other way around. President Reagan pointed out that this is the key difference between our Constitution and the constitutions of most other nations that have such documents. In those constitutions it is the government that tells the people what they may do.

It has been difficult to talk about this inclusive founding philosophy, which is the basis of our liberties, because we have lacked a single word descriptive term for it. I propose the term Intrinsicism to fill this need. It is simply the belief that human rights are intrinsic with human life. The opposite of this philosophy can then be called Extrinsicism or the belief that human rights derive from or are granted by extrinsic human sources rather than being inherent with each individual.

The extreme forms of Extrinsicism are used to justify the termination, cutting short or aborting of fundamental human rights. This philosophy and the cult religion that it supports can therefore be called Abortionism. I deliberately choose this term to emphasize the relationship between the prenatal child-killing that is commonly and euphemistically called abortion and other abortions or terminations of fundamental human rights that have often been easier to recognize and oppose. This destructive philosophy views human rights as conditional grants that may be terminated or aborted at any time on the basis of whatever criteria those who have the power to do the aborting choose to recognize. Any portion of the human community may be summarily excluded from its recognition and protection, discriminated against and even destroyed based on these criteria. The criteria have historically included race, color, creed, national origin, social or economic class, sex, abilities and birth. It is these criteria for exclusion and destruction that distinguish the various sects of the cult of Abortionism from each other.

Some of the more common sects of Abortionism, characterized by their exclusionary criteria, include the Racist sect which excludes people on the basis of ethnicity, the Sexist sect which does so on the basis of sex, the Classist sect on the basis of social or economic class, the Creedist sect on the basis of religious beliefs and the Functionalist or Utilitarianist sect which excludes people on the basis of limited utility or abilities. One of the most common and active Abortionite sects in America today is the Birthist sect which excludes people on the basis of whether or not they have been born. They have much in common with the Utilitarianists and there is extensive joint membership.

Regardless of exclusionary criterion, the central dogma and guiding philosophy of Abortionism - that rights are granted to powerless people by powerful people rather than intrinsic with every individual - remains intact from one sect to the next. The reverence for power, especially the power to decide whose lives and liberties may be destroyed, has always been the common thread among all Abortionites. A Birthist Abortionite slogan, which has become a virtual prayer, perfectly summarizes this point with the question "Who Decides?"

There are many false idols worshipped by Abortionites. These include money, power, sex, image, convenience, and physical and mental perfection. But the primary object of worship is the intellect of the individual Abortionite which is regarded as competent to select exclusionary criteria for the destruction of others. The extreme arrogance this requires is a hallmark of Abortionite leadership. Those who have led the charge for doctor-assisted suicide provide outstanding examples of this trait.

The first objective of any Abortionite missionary campaign has been to breach the wall of separation between freedom and oppression (or civilization and barbarianism) which is the philosophical foundation of a free or civilized society. This wall is the philosophy of Intrinsicism. Once the wall is breached by compromising the integrity of the philosophy that protects life and liberty, all the criteria of the various Abortionite sects then compete on an equal basis because they are justified in principle. This was accomplished in this country by the Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade in 1973 which struck down the Intrinsicist premise of the nation. The Court justified this monumental act of tyranny by feigning ignorance of when individual human lives begin.

Some imagine that the wall of separation stands at the edge of a so-called slippery slope. But it is really at the edge of a cliff. We were sent over the edge with Roe v. Wade and it is only a matter of time before we learn where and how hard we will hit bottom. The news is full of instances of ever more shocking abuses of society's weakest members, yet the Birthist Abortionite mind set that prevails in the opinion shaping institutions of the nation continues to deny that the exclusionary criteria of other Abortionite sects were justified by Roe v. Wade when the nation's founding philosophy of Intrinsicism was repudiated. We have been left to argue over whose exclusionary criteria will prevail now that the mere existence of human life is an insufficient condition for its protection.

The use of wedge issues to obscure the common humanity of the target populations of Abortionism and the general non-Abortionite population, in order to exclude the former from the human community, has been a tried and true evangelical technique for the cult. A wedge issue is an otherwise legitimate concern that is manipulated to divide people from each other by pandering to narrow self-interests and fears in place of defending fundamental principles of human rights. The Racist Abortionite sect has frequently used patriotism and economic issues such as unemployment in this manner, whipping up hatred against minority groups. The Birthists have very effectively used so-called hard cases (rape, extreme poverty, mother's health, etc.), using the emotional impact, immediacy and visibility of these otherwise legitimate concerns (as well as the much greater ease of identifying with postnatal people in such situations) to divide the people from the prenatal portion of the population. The Utilitarianist sect has made great headway with the wedge issues of pain and autonomy to divide people from those patients who may be incompetent or less able to resist the pressures to end their lives. It is these who will be the first targets of the Abortionites seeking to put them out of our financial misery.

Some have based the claim to a right to assistance in ending their lives in terms of ownership and sovereignty. While the best response to this claim is with reference to theological concepts - that only God owns us and has any claim to sovereignty (despite what Abortionites might think) - for purposes of law and public policy it is sufficient to note that the concept of ownership does not include the right to do just anything at all with what is owned. It only implies a right to exclude others from the use of what is owned, and even that is often limited. There are many examples that could be offered to support this.

What is ultimately at stake in both prenatal child-killing and euthanasia is how we as a society will determine the value of human life. Let us not make the literally fatal error of further poisoning our culture to appease the hubris of those who believe they can provide "safeguards," "guidelines" and so forth to prevent abuses. We have already suffered enormous damage with the satanic verses of Roe v. Wade. I do not mean to belittle the very real and tragic sufferings that many have endured, but it would be an invitation to throw still more classes of human beings to the wolves to sanction doctor-assisted suicide when far better ways to remove the motivations for such acts of desperation are or can be made available.

Analogies between prenatal child-killing and euthanasia are far from perfect. The first involves two persons in a uniquely intertwined relationship, one of whom has the vast majority of life still to come yet is often difficult to identify with as one of us and is not capable of decision-making. The other person can be seriously affected by the relationship and shares responsibility in most cases with still a third person for having initiated it. In the typical case of euthanasia we have one person who may or may not be competent, who has most of their life behind them and usually has the capacity to experience physical and/or emotional pain. It is also very easy to imagine ourselves in such circumstances and therefore much easier to rationalize ways to cope that may have unforeseen adverse impact on society at large. We have heard the advocates of doctor-assisted suicide state repeatedly "I want this right." The logic is "if I want it I should have it," much as it was thirty years ago and remains today on prenatal child-killing. This is nothing more than childish self-centeredness dressed up in the rhetoric of choice and self-determination. It is blind to the needs of others and the far-ranging consequences of what is sought.

It was Jack Kevorkian who coined the term medicide for his activities and it was widely accepted until it was pointed out that it literally meant the killing of medicine. This is exactly what he and his followers will accomplish if they succeed in turning physicians into agents of death. Those who wish to end their lives are free to do so but not with the blessing or assistance of society. Our pagan ancestors did not give us the Hippocratic Oath to make life more difficult. They did it because they found from cruel experience that it was essential. It seems that whenever historical memory has faded some generation brings forth new advocates of historically discredited and abandoned causes who are convinced that their intellectual enlightenment can overcome all prior difficulties. We are not obliged to indulge their narcissistic tantrums regardless of how cleverly presented. We owe the weakest among us, who may one day be ourselves, protection from the depravity of Abortionite missionaries.

I urge the Senate and House to reject the false compassion that says "let us help you relieve us of the emotional and financial burdens you present." Please put your efforts into alleviating pain and the other physical, emotional and financial burdens that we all have reason to fear.