Assisted Suicide: Advertise or Discuss?

Why is New Mobility running an ad for a political issue — assisted suicide, or death with dignity if you prefer — on this website? The truth is, those of us on the editorial staff were shocked when we became aware of it (we do not control advertising, only editorial content). Frankly, if ad placement were up to me, I would not have accepted the ad from Compassion & Choices that began running on Monday, August 4. Nor would I have accepted an ad expressing the opposing opinion from Not Dead Yet. I would rather invite both groups, and their supporters, to discuss the issues in the pages of NM and online.

My reasoning is based on the nature of political agendas and how they are presented in advertising. In that world, which is ever more pervasive, controversial political issues face off in a kind of distorted courtroom atmosphere. Each side has its version of the truth, and the job of the attorney (advertising or PR agency) is to highlight its message and/or devalue the opposition’s. And in neither case does the jury (targeted audience) hear the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. What we get are half-truths, exaggeration, nuanced shading and skillful manipulation of language and images — all with the purpose of winning a verdict (votes). Sometimes we even get downright lies.

Speaking for myself, I believe the proper role of New Mobility should be to inform readers on political issues (especially hot-button issues). With controversial political positions, what we need is full discussion of the underlying issues and ramifications, not dueling “sound-bites” or provocative images or manipulative advertising.

What do you think?

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  1. I protest your magazine’s ad by a leading organization supporting physician assisted suicide. The late author Hugh Gallagher was a dear friend and strong proponent of assisted suicide in the disability community until later in his life. He resigned from the board of Compassion and Choices because he knew they were about to espouse assisted suicide for people with disabilities who did NOT have a terminal disease: a dangerous direction for people with disabilities. It is misleading and dishonest that C&C still issues an annual Hugh Gallagher award. If you click on the link, the ad purports to celebrate the ADA. C&C’s entire reason for being is assisted suicide. Having doctors kill disabled people is NOT something to celebrate and twists the meaning of ADA.
    As an Oregon resident (where assisted suicide is legal) and person with a disability, I am painfully aware of the potential for abuse of the law’s stated intentions. In a profit driven health care system, assisted suicide, which costs about $300, will be the cheapest treatment. The Oregon Health Plan issued letters to Barbara Wagner and Randy Stroup stating they would not pay for chemotherapy prescribed by their doctors but offered the option of assisted suicide. Also, diagnoses of terminal illness are often wrong and people give up on treatment and lose years of life.
    Abuse of people with disabilities and elder abuse are rising. An heir or abusive caregiver may steer someone towards assisted suicide, witness the request, pick up the lethal dose, and even give the drug — no witnesses are required at the death, so who would know? The laws have hollow safeguards with no investigative authority or enforcement.
    Assisted suicide laws are not only dangerous with no meaningful safeguards, they are unnecessary. People already have the right to refuse treatment and get palliative care including, for those dying in pain, pain relieving palliative sedation.
    Janine Bertram
    Zigzag, OR

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