Verbal Engineering

Words & platitudes used by advocates of
euthanasia & doctor-prescribed suicide

All social engineering is preceded by verbal engineering

American Medical Association’s Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs:  “Assisted suicide” should be called what it is — “assisted suicide.”  Advocates of assisted suicide have sought to have the American Medical Association (AMA) refer to the practice by euphemistic terms such as “aid in dying” or “death with dignity.”

However, the AMA’s Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs (CEJA) recommends that the AMA continue to call assisted suicide what it is – “assisted suicide.”  The full resolution on the recommendation will be on the June 9 – 13, 2018 agenda for the AMA’s annual meeting.

NY High Court Rejects Assisted Suicide Right
(National Review — September 7, 2017)
When a social movement feels the need to hide its actual agenda beneath a veneer of gooey euphemisms (“aid in dying,” “death with dignity,” etc. there is something very subversive about the agenda.
[Assisted suicide proponents wanted the court to pretend that a lethal dose used in self-killing isn’t really suicide.]
This blatant word engineering attempt is rejected outright by the court.  “Aid-in-dying falls squarely within the ordinary meaning of the statutory prohibition on assisting a suicide.  [Myers v. Schneiderman pp. 6-7]

“‘Terminal’: What does it mean?”
(August 2017)
Doctors who favor doctor-prescribed suicide are prescribing the the lethal drugs for patients who could live for decades.

“A spade is a spade: why correct language is so important”
( — Australia — August 23, 2016)

“In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible…Thus political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness.”  George Orwell

Some matters of state and public interest can stand the occasional euphemism or fuzzy acronym.  But, in a debate about life and death, there’s too much at stake to tolerate such fudging.

“Why 9News uses the words assisted ‘suicide'”
(KUSA 9News, Denver Colorado — August 17, 2016)
This November, you’re going to get to vote on an assisted suicide law in Colorado.  Supporters of that law have asked 9News not to call it assisted “suicide.” They’d rather call it “medical aid in dying.”…. We have a duty to tell you about it in simple, direct language.  That’s why we are not going to stop using the word “suicide.”
More on Colorado

“‘Worse Than Death’ Meme Pushes Culture of Death”
(National Review — August 16, 2016)
The “worse than death” terminology was that of the authors….And now consider the many millions of Americans now living with the very conditions that a respected medical journal has insinuated — through the stacked wording of the surveys provided patients from which the study is derived — are “worse than death.”

“Editorial: Death and the state”
(Pioneer Press — March 23, 2016)
Although a “Compassionate Care” bill was withdrawn from consideration after a hearing in the Minnesota Legislature last week, the issue will remain before Minnesotans.
With one side emphasizing “compassion” and the other “assisted suicide,” it’s a conversation in which language matters.
More on Minnesota

“Suicide by any other name”
(USA Today — October 13, 2015)
“Right to die” proponents take advantage of human vulnerability, obfuscate reality of assisted suicide…But verbal cloaking is the stock in trade of the “right-to-die” forces. The Orwellian-speak they employ to describe their effort is telling. It is death by euphemism.

“Death with Aesthetics”
(First Things — November 2014)
We don’t speak plainly in public discourse anymore. Rather, we equivocate and deploy euphemisms to sanitize our debates.

“Physician-Assisted Suicide Debate: Are We Using The Right Language?”
(Forbes — October 27, 2014)
The language used to describe physician-assisted suicide is directly correlated with support or opposition to the practice.  But if the act isn’t described accurately then how are people supposed to make informed decisions about whether or not to support physician-assisted suicide legislation?

“How do you neutralize death?
(Windsor Star — March 21, 2014)
Can death be neutralized by dumbing down the words euthanasia or assisted suicide to “aid in dying?”

“New York Times’ Biased ‘Aid in Dying’ Bunkum”
(National Review Online — February 8, 2014)
I have long ago given up on the media fairly —  or even accurately — reporting on the assisted suicide movement.  Most stories exhibit some or all of the following bias methods…

“New Mexico Lower Court Parrots the Language and Platitudes of Assisted Suicide Advocacy Groups”
(Not Dead Yet — January 14, 2014)
The New Mexico plaintiffs are all people who seem privileged enough to be justified in their confidence that the patient in this case will not be coerced into suicide, will not be treated like an unwanted burden on those around her, and is not at risk of being administered the lethal drugs without her consent.
It would be nice if everyone with a difficult illness could have the same confidence. But in the real world, where elder abuse is on the rise, C&C’s platitudes should not distract us from our collective obligation to consider the impact on everyone, not just the privileged few.

“Help to die? Careful what you ask for”
(Globe and Mail — October 9, 2013)
Only one-third of Quebeckers understand (correctly) that “medical help to die” means active euthanasia: a lethal injection performed by a physician on a patient who requested death. Another third of respondents confuse this procedure with palliative care. And 40 percent confuse it with withdrawing the aggressive life-support techniques that can artificially prolong life.

“U.S. Support for Euthanasia Hinges on How It’s Described”
(Gallup Poll — May 29, 2013)
Support is at low ebb on the basis of wording that mentions “suicide.”

“Euthanasia’s Euphemisms” When a social movement must rely on euphemisms to obfuscate its goals, it is a good be there is something wrong…(First Things — February 22, 2013)

 “Peers clash over right-to-die ‘spin'”
“In law, as in the English language, if you take your own life, whatever your state of health, that is suicide; and a doctor, or anyone else, who supplies you with the means to do so is assisted suicide,” he [Lord Carlile] said.
(The Telegraph — May 11, 2013)

“When Killing Yourself Isn’t Suicide” Word games played in assisted-suicide debate (from National Review)

“Words, Words, Words” Originally appeared in Duquesne Law Review as “The Art of Verbal Engineering.”