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Women Overwhelmingly Targets of "Mercy Killings".

Still another study has appeared shredding the myth that "mercy killings" are a "compassionate" effort usually by one spouse to "end the suffering" of the other. Drawing on an article that appeared in the September issue of Omega: Journal of Death and Dying, HealthScoutNews reported that "new research has found two-thirds of those whose lives are ended that way are women, and the researcher says that raises a troubling question: Are women's lives worth less than men's when it comes to long-term care?"

HealthScoutNews reporter Jennifer Thomas titled her story "The Manly Art of Mercy Killing." She quotes lead author Prof. Silvia Sara Canetto, an adept debunker of pro-euthanasia myths, who observed, "In the United States, euthanasia tends to be presented as an issue of self-determination, autonomy, choice.

"But when you actually look at what happens," Canetto continued, "you have a person who is very ill, dependent on others for care, vulnerable and exhausted. If you perceive yourself as a burden, or others perceive you as being a burden, you could be seen as a good candidate for death."

And most of the "good candidates for death" are women. Canetto, an associate professor of psychology at Colorado State University, explained why: "Many women do not have the resources, the sense of entitlement or the power and freedom to make the choice they desire, especially when they are sick and disabled."

Canetto concluded, based on her research, that "mercy killing and the further legalization of physician-assisted suicide are dangerous, particularly to older women," according to Thomas.

Prof. Canetto could not be accused of using a source unfavorable to the pro-euthanasia movement. Her team based their research on records compiled by the Hemlock Society from 1960 to 1993. In all there were some 112 "mercy killings" (as Hemlock defines them).

She observes that most "mercy killings" involve spouses or a child and a parent. However, 70% of the perpetrators are men.

According to the Hemlock records, in almost all cases (85%), no one knows if the individual asked to be killed. What is known is that people begin to fixate on suicide because of depression, loneliness, or exhaustion.

Odd as it may sound at first blush, when people do make such a request they typically are seeking "comfort."

"When someone says, `I can't stand it. I want to die,' there are many different levels to that," Canetto told Thomas. "What they may want is reassurance. They might be saying, `Even though I can no longer walk, even though I am incontinent, I am still of value to you.'"

For her part Hemlock Society President Faye Girsh said this attitude is patronizing. "To say women can't make this decision because they are somehow more vulnerable is insulting," she told Thomas.

Girsh's preferred solution to "mercy killing"? Legalizing assisted suicide. That way, the "discussion" is "brought out in the open," Girsh said.

Burke Balch, NRLC director of medical ethics, told NRL News that it's not physical suffering that prods most people to fantasize about committing suicide but "a sense of being abandoned." Especially with women, he added, they are susceptible to believing that the family would be "better off" if they would stop being a "burden."

"The study is an important additional piece of evidence showing that euthanasia disproportionately attacks the weak and the powerless," Balch said.>EN
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Author:Andrusko, Dave
Publication:National Right to Life News
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2001
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