Next Republican Target: Death with Dignity

The red flag of the word “natural”

“Freedom” for the Fundamentalist Christians and Christian Nationalists who dominate the modern Republican Party means “Freedom to impose my narrow religious view of the world on everyone else.” Freedom means the freedom to intrude on the most important and personal decisions in everyone’s life not just from cradle to the grave but from conception to the grave. As detailed in last Wednesday’s post, rulings based on “life begins at conception” not only make the method by which 2% of babies in the U.S. are currently conceived (in vitro fertilization [IVF]), expensive, untenable, and legally dangerous, but future rulings based on that religious dogma threaten several forms of birth control and the very position of women in society. 

If that weren’t enough to make a voter suspicious of anyone willing to run under the banner of “Republican,” now there is evidence these religious zealots want to dictate how we approach the other end of life as well. 

Judd Legum in his widely read Substack “Popular Information” posted on February 29th:

Former president Trump has endorsed Michael Whatley, a corporate lobbyist and chair of the North Carolina Republican Party, as the next chair of the Republican National Committee (RNC).

(For clarity, Lara Trump, Donald’s loyal daughter-in-law, is endorsed to be “co-chair”of the RNC along with Mr. Whatley.) Whatley is a lesser known, but devoted, election denier and, apparently, a religious zealot. Under Mr. Whatley’s leadership [the italics are mine]:

The most recent version of the North Carolina Republican Party Platform, approved in 2022, states that “[u]nborn children have constitutional rights to life and liberty and, the government must respect and protect all innocent human life from conception to natural death.”

“From conception to natural death.” Of course, no one should be surprised. These religious zealots have worked against Death With Dignity laws, laws that offer a personal choice in how one gets to exit this life, for decades. Based on the medically-chilling, wide-ranging effect of “life begins at conception” one must assume that “natural” in this application means something like, “however God’s wills it,” that is, with no medical assistance. 

I am a physician. I am well aware of the agony that one may face at the end of life in the process of dying. For me the prospect of death itself is not frightening, but the prospect of religious zealots telling me that I must exit this life only by their concept of “naturally” makes me profoundly angry. By what right do they propose that some of us must suffer indescribable pain at the end of life?

I am facing what, absent an alternative legal exit plan, could be a miserable, painful, struggling death with metastatic cancer. As recorded in the platform of his North Carolina Republican Party the prospective new co-chair of the National Republican Party wants to impose his narrow belief system on my and other’s most personal life choices. The Republican Party is driven by those who believe it to be well and proper that their particular narrow interpretation of Christianity should dominate the lives of everyone. Of course, anyone who carries the Republican label who challenges these ideas is not long for the party. Consequently, there is now no level of government for which I would be comfortable casting a ballot for a candidate with an “R” behind their name.

Keep to the high ground,


P.S. “Medical Aid in Dying” (MAID), aka “assisted suicide,” is now legal (and regulated) in ten states and the District of Columbia. Getting to this patchwork in support of personal choice has not been easy. (See the wikipedia article for a detailed discussion.) Oregon was first, passing Measure 16, the Death with Dignity Act, with 51.3% of the vote in 1994. In 1997 Oregon voters 60% of Oregon voters cast votes to keep it available when a repeal initiative was floated. The Washington State “Death with Dignity” initiative was passed by 58% of state voters in 2008. The North Carolina Republican Party platform discussed above with its “protect all innocent human life from conception to natural death” clause strongly suggests a Republican drive toward preventing legalization of MAID in states where it is not now legal, repealing it where it is legal, and, if necessary, establishing a federal ban. If that seems doubtful, consider that, although the Dobbs decision expressed the idea that abortion was a matter for states to decide, 125 U.S. House Republicans went right ahead and signed on in support of a bill that would outlaw all abortion by federal law, “The Life at Conception Act.” Apparently, the argument for “states’ rights” is only a matter of convenience.