Sin No More: From Abortion to Stem Cells, Understanding Crime, Law, and Morality in America

By John Dombrink; Daniel Hillyard | Go to book overview

5
Assisted Suicide
The Road to New Rules of Dying

If I can't tell the difference between my baby daughter and a bag of
groceries, God forbid, and if my only movements and expressions
are random and involuntary, I'd rather not hang around, thank you.

—Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez (2005)

This is my body. I don't need you. I don't need government. I don't
need any church playing politics with my choices, with my life. If
I'm terminally ill, I'll decide how and when and in what way I will
end my life.

— “Faces,” 1994 reformer ad in Oregon repeal campaign

If nothing else, the drive to legalize assisted suicide is an elite lib-
eral political movement.

—Anti-euthanasia activist Wesley Smith (Smith 2006a)


Terri Schiavo and American Attitudes toward
Death and the Law, 2005

The images of Terri Schiavo, who for fifteen years had been in a persistent vegetative state, and the battle between her husband and her parents over whether to have her feeding tube and hydration terminated, transfixed America in the spring of 2005. As film clips were vigorously interpreted as showing her responding either voluntarily or involuntarily to external stimuli such as light and sound, Americans held what could be considered an extraordinary electronic town meeting for two remarkable weeks in 2005 on a subject—death—that until then had generally been discussed reluctantly and in private.

Schiavo had collapsed in her home in February 1990 during the early morning hours, and her heart had stopped temporarily, depriving her

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