'Lethal Medication'? AP Prefers Culture-of-Death Euphemisms for Assisted Suicide

Count Associated Press as one American news outlet that prefers the terminology of the culture of death. On Sunday, the home page of Yahoo carried the headline "Washington to allow patients to seek life-ending prescriptions." It’s about the state of Washington, and one click gets the story headline: "Washington state to allow ‘dignity’ deaths." It did not use the term "assisted suicide." AP writer Rachel LaCorte began her story:

Terminally ill patients with less than six months to live will soon be able to ask their doctors to prescribe them lethal medication in Washington state.

But even though the "Death with Dignity" law takes effect Thursday, people who might seek the life-ending prescriptions could find their doctors conflicted or not willing to write them.

Many doctors are hesitant to talk publicly about where they stand on the issue, said Dr. Tom Preston, a retired cardiologist and board member of Compassion & Choices, the group that campaigned for and supports the law.

The culture-of-death lobby chooses titles like "Compassion & Choices," and vows to create a "cultural shift" toward eliminating the terminally ill. The staunchest opponent in the story told AP he couldn’t write a lethal prescription, but he’s willing to refer the patient to the "compassion" forces:

Dr. Stu Farber, director of the palliative care consult service at the University of Washington Medical Center, voted against the measure and doesn't plan to prescribe lethal medication to his patients for now.

"I am not here to tell people how they should either live their life or the end of their life," Farber said. "There's possibly a story out there, in the future, that's so compelling that maybe I would write a prescription."

Farber said he would refer patients to Compassion & Choices of Washington, the state's largest aid-in-dying advocacy group, after talking about how they came to their decision.

Another doctor is quoted offering a mild critique:

Two doctors must certify that the patient has a terminal condition and six months or less to live.

Some doctors who opposed the measure have argued that a six-month terminal diagnosis is never a sure thing.

"There is no question in my mind that, if this is too easy of a task, people will die prematurely," said Dr. Linda Wrede-Seaman, a family physician and palliative care specialist in Yakima.

But AP and LaCorte never quoted the actual political opponents of Initiative 1000 in the story, and make almost no reference to religious groups campaigning against assisted suicide. That S-word only appeared once in the story.

[Image from Wesley Smith]

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