“John B. Kelly is a disability rights activist [and] director of Second Thoughts Massachusetts and New England regional director for Not Dead Yet, grassroots disability groups opposed to the legalization of assisted suicide,” the New Jersey Star-Ledger writes about the author of a guest column titled Assisted suicide laws are more dangerous than people acknowledge. Keep that bio in mind as you read this post.
Kelly’s article is written in opposition to a bill, currently working its way through the NJ legislature, to legalize doctor-assisted suicide in the state. The bill received added impetus from the widely publicized suicide of Brittany Maynard. Kelly wrote:
When the focus is on an individual, assisted suicide can sound good – who’s against compassion or relieving suffering? But a closer look reveals that assisted suicide puts vulnerable people in mortal danger. The more people learn about the real-world implications of these bills, the more they oppose them.
The simple truth is that not all families are loving.
Here is a good demonstration of the evil of collectivism, and why—despite Kelly’s fancying himself a “disability rights activist”—collectivism makes actual rights impossible. Who but the individual is there to focus on? Kelly apparently can find no counter-argument to Brittany Maynard’s statement defending her right to end her own life. So he simply trivializes Maynard into irrelevance in favor of a collective labeled “vulnerable people.”
Here are my posted article comments, and more:
I had to read this twice, because I couldn’t believe what was being said. But there’s no evading the message: Actual human beings don’t matter, if they are rational people of sound mind who are surrounded by loving families.
People who want to control other people’s lives always start by trivializing the individual. But we are all, after all, individuals. Let’s focus on the real world. Brittany Maynard is real. So was Christina Symanski, who chose, by her own rational judgment, to end her own “intolerable” life. I am a real person. An individual. Though 65 and currently healthy, the possibility of a horrendous end-of-life scenario is very real. I am going to die. We all are. We can’t always control how and when we die. But to the extent that I can, who has the right to stop me? Whether I have only months left due to a terminal illness, or years of living death, who has the right to take away what control I have? It’s my life, and my death.
The basic argument against assisted suicide presented here amounts to: Everyone’s right to make end-of-life decisions for themselves must be quashed if there exists a potential for abuse. But on that premise, there are no rights—including freedom of religion, speech, association, property, trade—that shouldn’t be quashed because every right entails the possibility that someone, somewhere will “abuse” it; i.e., violate another’s rights. And no freedom.
The government’s proper job is to protect individual rights, and only step in when evidence of rights-violating “abuse” arises, and only against the rights-violator. Punish the guilty, and protect the innocent. Those who preach otherwise, can not claim compassion for the “vulnerable” as a motive, because the most vulnerable is the individual; which is why the individual needs iron-clad constitutional protection from state encroachment on his rights.
It is that protection that Kelly wants to deny to the Brittany Maynards of the world. In conclusion, Kelly writes, “The Assembly must resist the pressure to make public policy based on one person. Assisted suicide laws are just too dangerous.” But the individual—the “one person”—is all that exists. The whole purpose of “public policy”—of law and of government—is to protect individual rights, not group “rights.” Groups have no rights, because a group is not an entity. A group is only a number of individuals. There are no rights of the disabled or the vulnerable, apart from the rights possessed equally and at all times by every single human being. A right is a moral sanction of the individual’s freedom to act on his own judgement. Anyone who violates individual rights has no business claiming to be a defender of anyone’s rights, disabled or otherwise.
Nowhere does Kelly explain how Maynard exercising her right to die with dignity infringed on the rights of the disabled, or anyone else. Hence, the rights-violators fall-back—collectivism. But as Maynard said:
I would not tell anyone else that he or she should choose death with dignity. My question is: Who has the right to tell me that I don't deserve this choice? That I deserve to suffer for weeks or months in tremendous amounts of physical and emotional pain? Why should anyone have the right to make that choice for me?
. . . I hope for the sake of my fellow American citizens that I'll never meet that this option is available to you. If you ever find yourself walking a mile in my shoes, I hope that you would at least be given the same choice and that no one tries to take it from you.
Kelly would not and could not answer Maynard’s question. He’s too concerned with trying to take that same choice from his fellow American citizens.
The Pope’s Sin and Brittany Maynard’s Choice to Die—Ari Armstrong for The Objective Standard
Conservatives’ Collectivist Case Against Assisted Suicide—Ari Armstrong for The Objective Standard
The ‘Liberal’ Collectivist Case Against Doctor-Assisted Suicide