We are in trouble when our elected officials start quoting Nietzsche.
It was at the Public Health Committee meeting March 10 that one of our legislators framed her argument in favor of SB 1076 (assisted suicide) with these words: “One should die proudly when it is no longer possible to live proudly” (clip position 27:40).
She did not appear to know who Friedrich Nietzsche was, and admitted that she had probably mispronounced his name. No doubt she had not read the rest of the paragraph from which that quote was taken. Here are some highlights: “The sick man is a parasite of society… A new responsibility should be created, that of the doctor — the responsibility of ruthlessly suppressing and eliminating degenerate life.”
There are reasons why Nietzsche was admired by the perpetrators of the Holocaust, as well as proponents of eugenics and euthanasia.
But it gets worse.
The Public Health Committee had an opportunity to explore the numerous concerns raised by the disability community, and a new group of voices, Progressives Against Medical Assisted Suicide. Misdiagnosis, coercion, disparities in healthcare, and erosion of suicide prevention efforts are just a few of the many issues. Instead, the conversation was entirely focused on keeping religion out of our personal choices.
It was as if all the opposition testimony from a secular social justice perspective—whether offered in person, on Zoom, or in writing—had never happened.
One representative had the nerve to say, “We are looking at the fact that there are zero reported cases of coercion” (Clip position 17:30). Think that through. If the person was coerced into ingesting the lethal prescription, they are dead. How would anyone know? For 20 years, disability rights organizations have made available anecdotal evidence of abuse in the system. More recently, there has even been an acknowledgment by pro-assisted suicide supporters of abuse in the deaths of several women with anorexia nervosa. This information has been presented time and again to legislators. Yet suddenly they were oblivious to it.
Remember also, that states shred records from their death-making programs after they issue their annual report. In addition, they require that death certificates only list the cause of death as the underlying illness. There are reasons why the Connecticut Division of Criminal Justice has repeatedly submitted testimony warning that falsified death records could interfere with a murder investigation.
The same legislator went on to say, “There has never been a report of the meds failing” (Clip position 17:30). Apparently, she has not read the articles about difficult deaths, or the annual reports from Oregon and Washington that include things that have gone wrong. People have had uncontrolled vomiting, seizures, long protracted deaths, and sometimes even woken up, only to die in deeper agony from the underlying illness.
People who are not religious testified about how they were relentlessly pressured by the healthcare system to withdraw treatment from loved ones who wanted to keep living. And this happened in the current healthcare system, not one under the shadow of legalized assisted suicide.
We in the disability and progressive communities implore the members of the Judiciary Committee to take our concerns seriously. Do not echo the Public Health Committee’s laser-like focus on people’s negative experiences with religion while ignoring inconvenient but important facts.
Embracing Nietzsche’s worldview is not the way to empower people with terminal illnesses. If you read it in context, it does exactly the opposite.
Cathy Ludlum is a member of Second Thoughts Connecticut, a grassroots disability organization opposed to the legalization of medical assisted suicide.