The California bureaucracy proposed a dramatic policy last week. It was essentially unreported. The Department of Corrections issued new regulations proposing that no prisoner shall be allowed to avail of the so called “Death With Dignity” Act. The law itself, currently under litigation, has been allowed to remain in effect for all other Californians until a ruling expected later next month. But in the meantime it is proposed that no prisoner, no matter how ill, may avail of the ‘right’ that other ill people have been offered; the supposed ‘right to be dead’. This might indeed be a good idea, but it reveals much deeper problems with the law. Problems other countries have also faced.
Individuals in California are currently ‘free to be dead’ when given a terminal diagnosis and an MD approximates that within 6 months they could die. If despondent and ‘hopeless’ in their own judgement, the patient is free to simply ‘get things over with.’ And ‘accommodating individuals’ may attend. They may be given a lethal dose of medicine. No psychological evaluation or counseling is required for those patients. As in Oregon and elsewhere, only certain physicians who view mercy killing as benign, are inclined to employ medicine in a deadly manner.
As in Oregon, no investigation is launched into the intentional killing, and as in all ‘assisted suicides’, the ‘assistant’, the third-party agent, is free to go, unquestioned and unhindered, even if he or she is an heir or should they in some other way benefit from the intentional killing.
So why should prisoners be denied this new, ‘human right’? Are prisoners in similar circumstances not human beings and also suffering? If medical killing is indeed both a benefit to the patient and all involved, wouldn’t the authorities be glad to be done with a sickly miscreant? Though they made mistakes, why are these poor captives of fate denied this supposed, ‘basic human right’ to not exist?
Perhaps because it is not a ‘right’ at all.
In California we have seen many inversions of what was once governing law, and its principle purpose, protection of the vulnerable innocent. Law is now routinely being used in California not to order society and protect its members, but to alter society; to dramatically change the values of society’s members. Public institutions from the schools on up are seen as tools of social manipulation. Instructive guidance, the basis of all law throughout history is now being employed in an effort to ‘progress’ society toward some new destination, a new cultural-Utopia we have somehow been denied.
Perhaps the experience of Belgium can give us insight into the Brave New World our voluntary euthanasia laws are attempting to impose on both the vulnerable as well as murderous prisoners. There, ‘assisted suicide’ via medicine is authorized even for the non-terminal, provided the patient themselves feel their lives have no purpose. This ‘freedom’ was given new meaning in January 2015 when serial-rapist and murderer Frank van Den Bleeken. He was denied execution at trial, though he desired it, as the death penalty is outlawed in Belgium.
Several years later and diagnosed with incurable illness, van Den Bleeken did not wish to spend the remainder of his life in prison. Initially the courts ruled that he indeed could kill himself at his own hand, since anyone can in Belgium. Grieving family members of his victims were content with the ‘self-execution’ – justice would finally be done. But it was not to be.
The courts in their newfound sense of justice ultimately ruled that what Mr. van Den Bleeken needed is what all despondent and suicidal individuals should always be offered, psychological intervention and counseling. In Belgium only innocent people may be killed. Murderers must get counseling and protection.
Today capitol criminals cannot be killed in California even if they desire it. The finest counseling and interventions are instead offered. There have been no executions since Clarence Ray Allen in 2006, and complete prohibition is proposed for the November ballot. To be killed in a California prison you will still have to rely on the age-old ‘shiv’ secretly offered by an accommodating murderer.
On the other hand, the most vulnerable and emotionally needy in California are, on a wholesale level, being ‘offered’ medical elimination by society. Nursing homes, hospitals, medical facilities of all kinds can make this available. No counseling is required for those who are depressed and despondent due to their serious illness. No physician need be in attendance.
Thoughts of suicide are the number one indicator of depression. Dispensing poison instead of counseling to those with terminal diagnosis indicates the objective reality that assisted suicide is designed, not for those we care for, but for those we no longer wish to care for.