If people will not be moved by natural law, or by unethical behavior, or by foresight of the need for future preservation, if people will not cease cheering the Culture of "When do we get to kill?" advancing on all fronts, legalizing the slow destruction of people by drug use, or the final termination of any who despair via false charity mercy killings, then perhaps a history reminder will snap some from the reflexive embrace of all things if the right political party applauds or the wrong political party rejects.
If the law can bequeath value, worth and protection, owing to the thinking of the day, then the law can taketh away. We all know this from history, women, african-americans, children, untermensch, three-fifths of a person, savages, the unborn, whosoever we opt not to see as human, we do not treat as human, making our society, less humane. To presume the moral code which keeps the power to "kill" from being abused will remain as it is, is also to ignore history, the history of law, and human nature.
The right to die, will become the obligation, because what we can do, we always do to excess. What we allow via law, we codify as correct morally. What we codify as correct morally leads to further exploration... well how far out is it correct to use this right to declare "personhood" or to strip it, and when is it right and just to usher a person out of life, as a kindness? Does a smart dog have personhood? What about a smart phone? Does a Down Syndrome child lack sufficient purpose to the society, such that he does not merit person hood once those who love him die? If being desired and loved is what determines personhood --as in the case of the unborn, then if one is undesired or unloved as far as one knows, does one lose "personhood?" Is the status something conferred by the State, or by the individual? What if the individual can't speak for him or herself?
We always cloak our moral rationalizing in such pastel terms. And those who favor whatever modern sensibility has been advanced, will view any such concerns voiced by those who object to the fashionable new laws, as so much hand wringing. Anyone concerned at the abuses such a law enacted in California and the four other states that sanction mercy killing, is written off, the equivalent of a Catholic Cassandra predicting the fall of Troy.
We will invent a new language, new terms to make the decision by a person to die more socially acceptable, less morally challenging, maybe pick a ribbon color that hasn't been designated yet, and make a particular month, the month --probably December, because that's so terribly considerate to family, to get it done at the end of the tax year. These laws in California, in Oregon, New Mexico, Vermont and Washington and to a lesser extent, Montana, call it "death with dignity." If this law metastasizes and spreads across the land, via the courts or popular opinion, dying will become an industry in this country, with customs and pomp and circumstance and glowing articles depicting how noble and selfless it is to do this for one's family. A society that cannot bear hearing phrases which trigger emotional hurt, will have little tolerance for enduring the cross of growing old, or witnessing those who do.
We can pretend they aren't people, we can declare them not people, or lacking or having lost "personhood," (because we gave it to the dolphins or the chips or the dogs or computers or trees or whatever other thing or creation we deem of more worth). We can shout with laws and courts, politicians and celebrated beautiful powerful people, they are not people. That does not make it truth; it only reveals how we are treating them, and our justification to our own selves.
Even absent my own deeply held religious convictions, people of good will, who believe we should care for the poor and the sick, who want a society which protects the weak from the powerful, should agree with the following sans any scaffolding of faith: there is no one more fragile than the one no one has to see; no one has to hear; no one has to know about. There is no one more poor in society, than the one who has no say, no choice, and no chance except by the grace and mercy, charity and courage of others.
The government and laws which reflect the society governed, must protect the most vulnerable, or they are a form of tyranny against the powerless, sustaining the comfortable in their status quo. The problem with that sort of scenario, is sooner or later, each of us will wind up on the other side of the equation, on the side those comfortable, don't favor. I return to the unborn because they get dismissed the most easily, but it applies to the elderly, the infirm, the disabled, the veterans, the homeless, the mentally ill, to any whom society deems less useful, to all who walk the earth unseen.
Here is why I stand against the law in California sanctioning the "right to die," and against abortion. Both laws stem from the same line of thinking, that life is tedious, painful, a nuisance and too much trouble if it is anything but care and worry free. How long can a society endure, that cannot weather even paper cuts to the psyche? How long can a people survive, intent on eliminating all who aren't perfect, either in genetics or in geriatrics? What nation thrives under the delusion that all suffering can be eliminated from experience?