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Humanize From Discovery Institute's Center on Human Exceptionalism
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Bill Would Require Federal Funds to Pay for Assisted Suicide

Originally published at National Review

The use of federal funds to cover any costs associated with assisted suicide is currently against the law based on a bill signed in 1997 by President Bill Clinton after Oregon’s lethal law went into effect. Now, a new bill has been introduced to force Medicare, the VA, and the federal share of Medicaid to cover expenses associated with assisted suicide.

The bill plays the usual euphemism game, pretending that assisted suicide isn’t really suicide. From H.R. 8137:

Medical aid-in-dying, an authorized medical practice, is not euthanasia, mercy killing, or assisted suicide.

Sigh. This tactic is as predictable as it is disingenuous. If a bill referred to a dung beetle as a butterfly, it wouldn’t change the reality of the thing. The renamed insect still wouldn’t fly and would roll in feces on the ground. The same is true here. The term “assisted suicide” is accurate and descriptive. “Suicide” means the intentional killing of oneself. To be “assisted” means to be helped in completing an act. Moreover, “suicide” is a “what” that causes death, not a “why.”

“Medical aid in dying,” in contrast, is a euphemistic, culture-of-death catchphrase deployed to shroud the reality of what is done. If we care about integrity in legislation, we should recognize that the term “assisted suicide” is apt — let alone that it is used in the current funding ban.

The new bill, if passed, would make the current federal law inoperative in states where assisted suicide is legal.

Beginning January 1, 2025, in the case of a State that permits medical aid-in-dying programs (in accordance with the laws of such State), the restrictions described in the Assisted Suicide Funding Restriction Act of 1997 (Public Law 105-12) shall not apply to any information, referrals, guidance, or medical care provided consistent with such programs.

Proposals such as this — assisted suicide is not the only debate in which such an idea has been floated — would create a fractured system in which federal law is not applied uniformly nationwide. That, to say the least, would be unwieldy.

Be that as it may, culture-of-death ideologues not only want doctors to help suffering people die, they also want taxpayers to foot the bill. Nope.

Wesley J. Smith

Chair and Senior Fellow, Center on Human Exceptionalism
Wesley J. Smith is Chair and Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism. Wesley is a contributor to National Review and is the author of 14 books, in recent years focusing on human dignity, liberty, and equality. Wesley has been recognized as one of America’s premier public intellectuals on bioethics by National Journal and has been honored by the Human Life Foundation as a “Great Defender of Life” for his work against suicide and euthanasia. Wesley’s most recent book is Culture of Death: The Age of “Do Harm” Medicine, a warning about the dangers to patients of the modern bioethics movement.