Time Touts Test for 'Foolproofing Suicide'

"Sadly, many home remedies could damage a fetus instead of kill it." -- Newsweek Senior Editor Melinda Beck on self-performed abortions, July 17, 1989 issue. This old crazy quote came to mind when Time’s William Lee Adams touted this latest "advancement" for the culture of death:

When someone with a terminal illness decides to end his or her life by overdosing on barbiturates, they may hope the drugs will lull them into a peaceful and permanent sleep. But if the drugs have passed their expiration date or lack a sufficiently lethal concentration, the would-be suicide victim may actually survive — risking an array of complications including coma, reduced physical functioning and the opprobrium of disapproving friends and family. Now, in an effort to provide certainty to those contemplating suicide, one of the world's leading euthanasia advocates plans to sell barbiturate-testing kits to confirm that deadly drug cocktails are, in fact, deadly.

The article's decidedly non-ironic headline was "Foolproofing Suicide with Euthanasia Testing Kits." Time seemed to avoid pondering some people find suicide intrinsically foolish, if not spiritually disastrous. The star of the story quickly emerged:

"People who are seriously ill don't want to experiment," says Dr. Philip Nitschke, the physician known as Dr. Death for his efforts to legalize euthanasia in his native Australia. "They want to know they have the right concentration of drugs so that if they take them in the suggested way, it will provide them with a peaceful death."

Critics of this Dr. Death emerge, but the anti-euthanasia group Care Not Killing drew a single sentence, while the pro-euthanasia group Dignity in Dying was given two longer opportunities to express their misgivings about Nitschke, even as they pushed for the legalization of assisted suicide. Adams also let Nitschke make implausible claims that euthanasia testing kits prolong lives:

Others fear that healthy elderly people will feel pressure to end their lives, to avoid becoming a burden to their families, and that the kit will lead to a spike in suicides. But Nitschke argues that access to a test reduces anxiety among those who want to know they have a peaceful way out of life should they ever need it — even if they never will. By helping them worry less, the kits, he says, may boost the quality, and length, of a person's life. "That's reassuring and empowering, and it also gives them cause to stop and think before acting," he says.

Remember paragraphs like this when news magazine editors claim it's irresponsible to publish arguments against the concept of man-made global warming and other controversies on which liberals expect the country to be absolutely unanimous.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis