Advancing the end for the terminally ill is just the beginning

Advancing the end for the terminally ill is just the beginning

Advancing the end for the terminally ill is just the beginning

An advocate for patients' rights says a longtime proponent of assisted suicide is showing with her latest proposal that getting the practice legalized is only a step toward the ultimate goal.

Supporters have long pushed for legalization of euthanizing the terminally ill, but the list of what qualifies as "terminally ill" continues to expand. As an example, Rita Marker, a practicing attorney and executive director of the Patients Rights Council, says Margaret Battin, an 80-year-old medical ethicist and a professor at the University of Utah, has just made a proposal.

Marker, Rita (Patients Rights Council) Marker

"In this new thing she is proposing, the 'advance directive implant' (ADI), it would mean that a person who has dementia or is worried about dementia would ask in advance to receive some sort of implant," Marker relays. "There would be a time on it, and at that time, the implant would start to work, which would in effect kill the person."

Live Action likens the device to a "time bomb."

"Anybody newly diagnosed with Alzheimer's or other irreversible progressive dementia, while still lucid and competent, can request one," Battin and co-author Brent Kious explain in an article on the subject. "If the implant is not removed, it will release the euthanasic drug after the designated delay — without further warning, without pain or discomfort, and without requiring activation of any sort. It will just go off, and, as with an instantly fatal but pain-free heart attack, that will be the end."

Marker says the idea falls in line with Battin's longtime agenda.

"In 1981, she was urging people at the American Association of Suicidology to consider assisted suicide and consider advocating it because this would be helpful to people," the attorney recalls. "Then in The Washington Times in 1987, she said suicide assistance might be warranted for elderly people who were worried about the prospect of extreme old age and lack of resources."

So with Battin's focus broadening to include dementia patients, or those who may someday be dementia patients, Marker submits that legalizing euthanasia for the terminally ill has merely been a stepping stone.