Wesley J. Smith's Truth About Assistance" Wesley Term Paper

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Wesley J. Smith's analysis of euthanasia and assisted suicide is logically flawed in several ways. First, rather than discussing the main arguments supporting the idea in principle, Smith attacks the most extreme scenarios imaginable, and presents unethical and completely unconscionable applications of assisted suicide to which even its staunchest proponents object as strongly as do those opposed to it.

Likewise, his concern that the concept of duly appointed surrogates of patients no longer capable of expressing their wishes will send ethicist down the "slippery slope" leading to euthanizing "Alzheimer's patients, mentally retarded people and, perhaps, children" is reminiscent of Tom Swift's "A Modest Proposal." The only difference is that Swift's ridiculous proposal was intentionally satirical, whereas

Smith's hysterical concern that "an HMO doctor [might recommend] suicide as the best 'treatment'... [because] the doctor could be fired or lose bonus income for providing...too much care but would be financially untouched for assisting in his or her suicide" was (presumably) intended by Smith as a genuine argument of principle on the issue rather than satire.

The main argument for the legalization of assisted suicide concerns patients suffering from incurable illnesses for whom continued existence means constant pain and hardship. Smith completely ignores assisted suicide for mentally competent patients who are pre-screened for clinical depression, and issues a completely unsupported characterization that "almost all" candidates for assisted suicide are necessarily clinically depressed. Similarly, he refers to them as "suicidal," in effect, presenting his conclusion in his premise. Naturally, patients suffering from constant pain and disability are "depressed," but their depression is hardly a manifestation of biochemically-induced or clinical depression, nor is it likely to resolve spontaneously, as Smith implies, when he suggests that victims of cancer or multiple sclerosis might regain the desire to live" suddenly, "next
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week or next month." Then again, it is hardly surprising that Smith inappropriately applies the term "suicidal" to patients suffering debilitating pain, because, in the same breathe, he specifically equates their predicament with "those who want to die because of, say, a lost business or divorce."

To illustrate the obvious difference, a person given the choice by terrorist abductors, let us say, between brutal torture and instant death is hardly "suicidal" for choosing the latter instead of the former in the face of such a horrible choice.

Smith presumes to decide for emotionally competent and intelligent patients that any existence at all -- even one plagued by unbearable pain -- is preferable to death; much easier to proclaim when the speaker has never experienced constant unrelenting pain, himself. According to Smith's analysis of Dr. Kevorkian's patients, the fact that the medical source of his patients' suffering might not necessarily be fatal in and of itself negates any claim on their part that their pain makes death preferable to continued suffering.

The "ultimate abandonment" is hardly represented by exercising compassion and assisting those in constant pain to end their suffering if that be their choice; the ultimate abandonment" is condemning such a person to continued suffering despite their expressed wish to end it -- if no other means of ending their pain is possible -- by death. For this reason, Jack Kevorkian will eventually be recognized as an American hero rather than as a criminal, precisely for his compassion, as well as for his courage to continue his work with full knowledge of certain legal consequences, specifically to publicize the moral issue of allowing patients the autonomy to choose death when life is simply no longer bearable by virtue of their medical misfortune.



According to the Los Angeles Times article entitled "The Secret to a Happy

Marriage? Men Giving In" the solution to all unhappy marriages is for…

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Another central element of the flawed reasoning underlying the initial expectation of a correlation between active listening and happy marriages was illustrated by Howard Markman, a psychologist at the University of Denver, and author of Fighting for your Marriage (1994). According to Markman, when active listening does succeed, it is simply because it often works as a method of "help[ing] couples disrupt the negative patterns that predict divorce." On the other hand, it is not technique commonly used by untroubled couples.

In light of the fact that the initial assumption of the value of active listening in marital therapy, in the first place, was based on flawed reasoning, it hardly supports any specific logical conclusion deriving from the failure of that particular hypothesis.

Similarly, the mere fact that a more emotionally involved and communicative husband is predictive of happier marriages (and marriages that are more likely to be salvaged in marital therapy) hardly suggests that the solution to marital problems is simply for husbands to "give in to" their wives and do whatever their wives say.

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