Assisted Dying

By Bill Maher

Recently it was reported that an 83-year-old British man, who had lived a rich, full life and who had been diagnosed with dementia, went to an assisted suicide clinic in Switzerland and ended his life with dignity with his wife at his side. He chose Switzerland because assisted suicide is legal there. And he brought his wife along because nothing gives you the nerve to go through with it like having the old ball and chain yapping away.

According to the CDC, about 5.4 million Americans currently have Alzheimer's disease and those numbers are expected to spike significantly as Baby Boomers get older and as the average age of our population as a whole climbs. This is an epidemic.

Early symptoms range from mild confusion to full-on Sarah Palin. 13% of people over age 65 and 45% of people over age 85 get Alzheimer’s disease. It's incurable and progressive and every single person who has it dies a slow, inhumane, heartbreaking death.

I am certainly not calling for death panels but we are currently warehousing millions of zombie humans -- shells of former people -- who have no recollection of who they are, who their family is, or what happened five minutes ago. Shouldn't we in a free society -- especially one with staggering healthcare costs that are sinking the economy -- be allowed when we are younger and of sound mind and body to say to our loved ones and to our doctors, "If I ever get that way, 'over-treat' me with morphine"?

I'm not saying we put Grandma down the minute she can't remember the name of "the lady who lived upstairs from our apartment on Coal Street." But shouldn't Grandma, before she's a grandma, be able to submit some sort of official paperwork with her doctor and the state that says, "Once I get to the point of not being able to care for myself and not recognizing my family and needing to be institutionalized, I'd like to be taken out"?

Conservatives rail on about individual liberties and Big Government keeping its nose out of their lives. What liberty could be more individual than the liberty to not become a drooling, mind-fried flesh pod? Shouldn't they be the first to defend the very personal, human right of not having to suffer a cruel, senseless, prolonged passing?