From the Nov/Dec edition of Orion. I’ll buy a beer for the commenter who can pinpoint my favorite line from this article.
In related news, our gov’ner here in Orygun declared today an indefinite moratorium on the death penalty. After a few moments of applause–after all, I’m an obedient anti-capital punishment pacifist like the rest of ’em–I began thinking that this might be a more laudable move if it represented an attempt to institute a holistic approach to peace and the respect of human life.
As it turns out, however, it does not. Kitzhaber is pro-choice (see this article from the 2010 election here) and Oregon is one of the most lax states on euthanasia. (Ironically, it also has one of the highest suicide ratings.)
Allow me a few more paragraphs to drive this point home.
Kitzhaber’s decision to forestall the death penalty arrives two weeks shy of Gary Haugen’s scheduled execution. Currently, the only way to get executed in Oregon is by asking for it. Literally. You have to “volunteer,” relinquishing intentions to any future appeals and requesting–formally, before a judge–to be executed.
So what’s the State of Oregon telling its residents?
Well, it’s OK to request to be killed if you’re not in prison (euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide are legal), but it’s not OK to request to be killed if you’re in prison (death penalty is on moratorium). Oh, and it’s really bad to kill yourself (suicide is frowned upon), but you can kill your unborn babies (abortion is legal).
All this comes to a head in Kitzhaber’s rhetoric when he claims that it was his physician’s oath to “do no harm” that led him to the decision about the death penalty. Hmm.. Where is that oath when you whitewash abortion as “women’s health”? Where is it when you enable physicians to help their patients kill themselves?
Let me be clear: I’m not arguing for a social ethic that ignores the complexity that each and every one of these issues harbors. There’s no “one answer” to everything. But I am arguing for coherence among the legislation that shapes us as a culture and as a community. I’d like to see a compelling vision of human flourishing govern the way we conduct ourselves in Oregon–not a patch-quilt of politically-motivated legislation to appease these constituents at one point in the cycle and these others and a different point.
Is that such a naive hope?