April 13, 2024


 Shakespeare called it "self-slaughter". Oregon bureaucrats call it "participation in the Death with Dignity Act". It’s tough finding a word to describe suicide which appeals to voters. In a 2005 Gallup poll, 75% of Americans agreed with "ending the lives" of patients with incurable diseases voluntarily. But when asked if they supported "assisting the patient to commit suicide", only 58% agreed.

So in Oregon, where it is legal, and California, where it is being pushed, creative writers in Circumlocution Offices have come up with "compassionate choices", "assurance of peaceful dying", "aid in dying", "choice in dying", "end-of-life choices" and even "choice and control at the end of life". As The Economist, normally a supporter of assisted suicide, points out, the official euphemisms used by the Oregon government to stave off lawsuits and keep voters happy would have " George Orwell rotating longtidudinally in his subterranean post-life enclosure".