Hillary Clinton Says Assisted Suicide “Appropriate Right to Have”

(Note: None of the following should be interpreted as an endorsement or rejection of any candidate. NDY does not endorse candidates for public office.)

Hillary Clinton was in Oregon over the weekend. Predictably, she was asked about assisted suicide:

Q: What’s your attitude toward Oregon’s assisted suicide law?

A: I believe it’s within the province of the states to make that decision. I commend Oregon on this count, as well, because whether I agree with it or not or think it’s a good idea or not, the fact that Oregon is breaking new ground and providing valuable information as to what does and doesn’t work when it comes to end-of-life questions, I think, is very beneficial.

Q: Would you have voted for it if you were a resident of the state?

A: I don’t know the answer to that. I have a great deal of sympathy for people who are in difficult end-of-life situations. I’ve gone to friends who have been in great pain and suffering at the end of their lives. I’ve never been personally confronted with it but I know it’s a terribly difficult decision that should never be forced upon anyone. So with appropriate safeguards and informed decision-making, I think it’s an appropriate right to have.

First, we should all probably get used to this. Clinton and Obama are in a heated race for the Democratic nomination and won’t want to do or say anything to piss off Oregon voters. John McCain is a little more unpredictable, but he’s well aware that the national race will be a tight one and he’s pretty solid on that “states’ rights” stuff.

As to Clinton’s answer – or answers – since she’s contradicting herself, it’s obvious she hasn’t had anyone brief her on the Oregon reports since she still seems to be suffering under the illusion that pain and suffering drive people to ask doctors for lethal prescriptions.

Tim Christie reports in the Eugene Register-Guard:

The most frequently cited end-of-life concerns were: loss of autonomy (100 percent); decreasing ability to participate in activities that made life enjoyable (86 percent); and loss of dignity (86 percent).

More patients were concerned in 2007 about inadequate pain control (33 percent) than in previous years (26 percent).

Christie also reports that there were no psychiatric referrals for evaluation of depression, which has raised expressions of concerns from several quarters:

In 2007, for the first time, no patients who requested assisted suicide were referred for a psychiatric evaluation. The law requires doctors to order such an exam if they believe a patient’s judgment is impaired by a psychiatric or psychological disorder. The number of patients referred for psychiatric evaluations has steadily declined each year the law has been in effect.


Dr. Linda Ganzini, a professor of psychiatry and medicine at Oregon Health & Science University who has published numerous studies on assisted suicide, expressed concern about the decline of psychiatric exams, however.

“I think it’s risky how low the rate of mental health evaluations is,” she said, “because people with depressive disorders are more likely to be able to get a (lethal) prescription if you’re not being very careful.”

This raises some questions about some of those highly praised “safeguards.” So does the scandal involving the Oregon State Board of Nursing, which an investigation found did a better job of protecting nurses than it did the safety of patients, including a patient who received an illegal lethal dose of medication, but the nurses involved claim that the patient requested it.

Most troubling and surprising is Clinton’s reference to assisted suicide as “an appropriate right to have.” The reason it’s surprising is that back in 1997, her husband’s administration – in a position definitely not poll-tested, was to oppose the argument that assisted suicide was a “right” when it came up in front of the Supreme Court, as described in this 1997 article by NY Times reporter Linda Greenhouse:

The Clinton Administration entered the cases on behalf of the states. Solicitor General Walter Dellinger argued in both cases today.

In contrast to the states’ lawyers, who urged the Court to find that there was no constitutional right at stake, Mr. Dellinger urged the Justices to recognize that terminally ill people have a ”liberty interest” in not having the state prevent their relief, through doctor-assisted suicide, from ”severe pain and suffering.” However, he said, the states’ interest in ”affirming the value of life” and protecting vulnerable patients should be given even greater weight, and the prohibitions should be upheld.

”The systemic dangers are dramatic” in a society that allows doctor-assisted suicide, Mr. Dellinger said. ”The least costly treatment for any illness is lethal medication,” he added.

Let’s hope this departure from Bill Clinton’s presidency isn’t an example of what Chelsea Clinton meant when she said her mom would be a better president than her father was. Dellinger’s words about the “least costly treatment” still hold true. It’s something that someone who puts such high importance on universal health care coverage should keep in mind. –Stephen Drake

PS – It already feels like a long election season. I suspect that sooner or later, John McCain might end up a subject of discussion here as well.

6 thoughts on “Hillary Clinton Says Assisted Suicide “Appropriate Right to Have”

  1. I have warned disability advocates who blindly follow the Democrats for years. Democrats are for abortion which reduces and potentially eliminates people with disabilities. (With the exception of those “nutty right-winger, religious zealout types” that disability advocates seem to dislike).

    Democrats support assisted suicide, which we all know reduces prematurely the lives of people with disabilities.

    STATES RIGHTS? IS HILARY CLINTON TRYING TO KIDS SOMEBODY? States rights my behind. Hillary is for a Federally controlled, government run, and owned EVERYTHING. Give me a break.

    Again I say, Peter Singer is an unabashed LIBERAL LEFT DEMOCRAT.

    They’ll give you tax money, IF they have any left after funding abortion on demand, and after they give it to illegal immigrants, and after they distribute the wealth to everybody else.

    Conservatives are perfect when it comes to disabilities, but Bob Dole was a conservative now, wasn’t he?

    Sorry for the tirade, but this just adds fuel to my fire.

    Kathy MN

  2. NDY doesn’t subscribe to either the left or the right as deserving the label of “friends” of people with disabilities.

    In 2005, NDY president Diane Coleman was invited to present testimony in front of the Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy and Human Resources Of the Committee on Government Reform
    Of the U.S. House of Representatives. The testimony is available at:



    Here’s how I’m beginning to look at things. The far right wants to kill us slowly and painfully by cutting the things we need to live, health care, public housing and transportation, etc. The far left wants to kill us quickly and call it compassion, while also saving money for others perhaps deemed more worthy.

    If you want evidence of this harsh charge about conservatives, check out the cached copy of a news story that Agape Press ran in 2005:
    “Disability Rights Group Charges Missouri with ‘Medical Killings'”


    Drake says Missouri Governor Matt Blunt and the Republican-controlled State Assembly made massive slashes in the State Medicaid program. The legislation, which took effect September 1, cut certain health-care items designated as “optional equipment,” including feeding tubes, nutritional formula, and ventilators, the NDY analyst notes, “meaning that things that were supplied that are absolutely essential for people to survive are now things people have to reapply for authorization for. And the authorization rate — the re-approval rate — has not been encouraging.”

    In fact, Drake says only about a quarter of those patients re-applying for authorization have been approved, despite the governor’s office claiming the cuts would not have an impact on “access to life-sustaining nutrition.” The way he sees it, the Missouri state government is using the cuts to the Medicaid budget to commit medical killings.

    Especially for groups like NDY who don’t have a position on prebirth issues, it’s hard to see any good guys in terms of a simple right/left worldview. –Stephen Drake

  3. Hi..

    Just saw a reference to this post over at EndeavorFreedom.. Leaving you a virtual gift of a shorter URL (from TinyURL.com) as this message needs desperately to reach every single, dadgum corner around the World possible:


    Here it is again in clickable format just because:


    Re supporting Left, Right, etc.. A friend/mentor’s husband (Hi, G & L..!) put it the best way my Mind grasped a few years ago at a Georgia Voices That Count training weekend..

    We had been approached by a candidate’s supporter feverishly waving pamphlets while asking us to get their candidate the Disability Vote..

    Being brand new in that position at the time, I hemmed and hawed for a sec.. My friend’s husband stepped right up with something along the lines of, “Persons with disabilities don’t endorse along party lines.. We endorse that which helps keep our People Alive, Free, and Included..”

    Not quite near exact what he said, but it was very much his message..

    PS.. The supporter walked away. Imagine THAT, if you will.. :giggle, wink:

    Cyber hugs for all you all do.. 🙂

  4. Cindy,

    Thanks so much for visiting, reading and commenting.

    There’s an old quote about nations and foreign policy that has also been applied to minority groups (I’ve seen it credited to Benjamin Disraeli and several other British politicians).

    Here it is in a 1979 Time magazine article talking about the NAACP starting to find common cause with the business community on *some* issues:

    (As you see, you’ve finally gotten me to start using “tinyurl.com)


    They are not, of course, about to split on all issues from their traditional allies among liberals and labor. But Benjamin Hooks, chief of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, likes to quote the remark of Ossie Davis, actor and activist: “We have no permanent friends, we have no permanent enemies, we have only permanent interests.”

  5. (smile)

    Yes, countless of my email recipients will be very grateful if I start using tinyurl on a regular basis. Thanks – I should have started using it a long time ago. –Stephen

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