Polling On The Right To Die
Marcy Burstiner, the North Coast Journal's Media Maven, takes a look this week at local media coverage of Assemblybabe Patty Berg's Right To Die bill. I won't quibble with her analysis of local media, but the end of her commentary I found somewhat troubling, if only by its implications. To quote her:
Missing from every story was a breakdown of support or opposition among terminally ill people. I'd like the Harris poll to go to every hospice across the state, and ask as many lucid, dying people what they think. Consider what difference it might make if, in contrast to the 70 percent of all residents in support, it turned out that 70 percent of terminally ill patients were against? Would some opposition soften if it turned out that 80 percent of terminally ill patients wanted the ability to choose the day to die? I wonder.
She does bring up a good point: There seems to have been little consideration of those most directly affected by the ramifications of this bill- the terminally ill patients themselves.
But I see that comment from a slightly different angle and I'll take it a step further.
Sure, no one is asking the terminally ill their opinion, but what if they had and it ended up either way, with either 70% of them for or against the right to die. What if you were one of the 30% who felt the opposite of the majority? Shouldn't this be a personal decision not subject to a majority vote?
I realize Patty Berg's bill is mostly about the right to personally decide, but to throw opinion statistics into the fray, while interesting, also suggests that it's totally appropriate for 70% of a given group to dictate to the 30% how they'll live their lives.
So, even if some hypothetical group of hospice associations took a poll, and the state legislature decided to cast their votes for or against AB 374 based on that poll, how would you like it if something that literally affected your life in a bad way was passed because 70% of the group felt differently than you?
I find that troubling.
I realize that was not the intent of Ms. Burstiner's commentary. That's just the way I read the last paragraph. Thing is, I think all too many people nowadays have no problem with- what should be personal decisions- being made by someone else.
Alas, it is true. That is the way we've come to accept living nowadays. Isn't it?
I've come to hate that old childhood saying, Majority rules! Seems too many others around the country have embraced it.