By Wesley J. Smith, J.D., Special Consultant to the CBC
The pro assisted suicide group Compassion and Choices, along with a compliant media, continues to romanticize self destruction as an answer to the problem of human suffering. Latest example: In Montana, a man murdered his wife, who had cerebral palsy, set his house on fire, and then, shot himself. How is the tragedy treated? As an advertisement for assisted suicide. From the story, byline Michael Jamison:
It was an act of love, Darryl Anderson said, an act of compassion and caring and bullets and arson and it didn’t have to be that way. “Basically,” Anderson said, “it was a mercy killing, to end the pain. They were good people, but there was terrible pain.” William “Ted” Hardgrove used to visit Anderson – Lincoln County’s sheriff – at work, showing off his inventions or detailing his own detective work on the latest unsolved case. He’d stay and chat and sometimes harangue, Anderson said, “and I thought he was just a super old guy.”
Hardgrove was 81, just like his wife Swanie. She was known for her baking, and her gardening and her lace-making, and for the fact that she had cerebral palsy as well as other crippling medical problems. In recent weeks, the increasing pain had completely overwhelmed her medication. On the last Saturday in August, Ted Hardgrove stopped the pain. He moved their valuables out of the Libby-area house and into the garage, then left a note explaining this final, desperate act of love. He took the household chemicals from the home, took the hunting ammunition and anything else that might explode or burn too hot. Anderson figures Hardgrove was protecting the firemen he knew would come. Then Hardgrove went back inside, shot his wife, set their home afire and shot himself. “It was a very carefully planned thing,” Anderson said. “He left that note, said he was tired of seeing her suffer so badly, and there was a better place.”
“An act of love”, “He stopped the pain:” In any other context, this would be looked at as a possible abuse scenario.
That point aside, rather than report on how this tragedy could have been avoided without death, the reporter goes to the Compassion and Choices representative–who despicably seizes upon the story to push the assisted suicide agenda:
But there was also, perhaps, a better way. “What we want people to know,” said Steve Hopcraft, “is there is help and information out there.” Hopcraft works with a nonprofit called Compassion and Choices, a group that offers free end-of-life planning, counseling and options. “We believe that these tragic and violent deaths are 100 percent preventable,” Hopcraft said. “It’s a matter, really, of getting the information out.” Information such as the fact that Montana is among three states – Oregon and Washington are the other two – where doctors are allowed to provide what’s known as “aid in dying.” They can prescribe lethal drugs to terminally ill patients, who can then choose whether and when to use the pills.
Talk about a clueless reporter. First, notice he buys the euphemistic “aid in dying.” Second, there is no indication that Mrs. Hardgrove was terminally ill, she was elderly and disabled, nor indeed, that she even wanted to be killed. Third, when pain control fails, the answer isn’t murder, it isn’t a lethal prescription, it is to have a doctor improve the pain control. Fourth, what could Mr. Hardgrove have done to get further help–without resorting to ending his wife’s life? Was he overwhelmed with caregiving? What services could he have sought? Good grief, at least print the local suicide prevention phone number!
But not to worry, the reporter quotes a physician:
“No one, no matter what their condition, should feel they have to resort to violence when confronting advanced illness,” said Stephen Speckart, retired Missoula oncologist. “Patients need to feel safe talking with their doctors about unbearable symptoms and their feelings of desperation and desire for a peaceful death.”
Guess what? Dr. Stephen Speckart was a plaintiff in the case that brought legalized assisted suicide to Montana–and the reporter doesn’t so identify him! That is really journalistic malpractice.
This is really disgraceful: We have a story of a murder suicide, turned into a commercial for assisted suicide, in which most of the sources are assisted suicide activists, written by a reporter who treats Mrs. H’s death as a necessity, and doesn’t explore how people in such difficult circumstances can be helped. Culture of death, Wesley? What culture of death?
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