No Time for Dissent: NPR Hails Suicide Advocate With 'Elfish Glint' and 'Lilting Voice' Taking His Own Life

Legalizing suicide is a controversial subject, but not to the liberal media. On Monday night’s All Things Considered, NPR honored Oregon activist Peter Goodwin, a major force in passing Oregon’s “Death With Dignity Act,” for employing his own law and taking his own life with some pills at 83. There was no airing or acknowledgment of the opposing side, those who believe that life should end with natural death.

Culture of death? Banish the thought. Reporter Julie Sabatier’s tone was glowing: “As he was about to turn 83 last fall, Peter Goodwin still had an elfish glint in his eye. You can hear his heritage in his lilting voice.”

Goodwin was born and raised in South Africa.

Oregon’s law requires a six-months-to-live prognosis from a doctor to make the suicide legal. Sabatier reported “Two months ago, Goodwin got that prognosis from his physicians. On Sunday, he swallowed a fast-acting barbiturate prescribed by his doctor. He died less than half an hour later.”

The only other voice in the story came from Goodwin’s group with the name “Compassion and Choices.” Sabatier announced “The nonprofit helps patients and doctors learn how to use Oregon's Death With Dignity Act. It's often called assisted suicide, but the law specifically rejects that term.”
The group’s Barbara Coombs Lee “says if a person's death is imminent and inevitable calling it a suicide is a grave disservice.”

Lee declared: “Would we say that the people who jumped from the World Trade Center were committing suicide? I wouldn't because the fire was in their face and they chose a different kind of death.” No one was allowed to suggest that a terrorist bombing and a slowly-advancing disease are highly differing threats. (So much for liberals who hating the political exploitation of 9/11.) The story closed like a eulogy:

SABATIER: Oregon's Death With Dignity Act was the first like it in the nation. Dr. Peter Goodwin considered it his life's work. Earlier this month, Goodwin said that when it came to using the law himself, that was the most difficult decision of all.

GOODWIN: I'm going to be saying goodbye to a lot of people, a lot of people whom I love, and I just wish that I could say to them, when I cross the River Styx, I'm going to be feeling as loving towards you as you feel towards me. That will be a consolation.

SABATIER: Goodwin said having control over his own death allowed him to face it without fear. For NPR News, I'm Julie Sabatier in Portland.

On her Twitter page, Sabatier was receiving kind words on her powerful (and unanimous) story from both Compassion and Choices folks and the Death With Dignity National Center, which tweeted to her: “Really a beautiful interview with Dr. Peter Goodwin. It's great to hear his voice again. He will be missed greatly.” Sabatier replied: “Thanks so much. I'm so glad I got to meet him.”

Other media outlets also used the unanimous formula. The AP dispatch was headlined "Oregon physician behind Death With Dignity dies." The local paper, the Oregonian, used the headline "Doctor who pushed for Oregon's Death With Dignity Act intends to exercise the right."  There used to be a time when journalists "erred on the side of plain English."

On ABCNews.com, Susan Donaldson James wrote a one-sided article but at least carried a headline that avoided the suicide-lobby euphemisms of the other stories:  "Dr. Peter Goodwin, Father of Oregon Suicide Law, Takes Own Life." At the bottom was this tribute video from Compassion and Choices, which was not labeled as basically an advertisement. One might have started by thinking this was an ABCNews.com video:


 

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