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VICTOR JOECKS: Lombardo euthanizes assisted suicide bill

Human life is uniquely valuable. That’s why it’s good that Gov. Joe Lombardo vetoed a bill to legalize assisted suicide.

The regular legislative session is over, but the process isn’t over. On Monday night, Senate Republicans wisely rejected one of the budget bills. It needed a two-thirds majority, so their opposition killed the bill. Lombardo signed the appropriations budget, which he previously vetoed. So far, he’s gotten almost nothing in return.

A special session began Tuesday night. Watch to see if Lombardo demands concessions or wants Senate Republicans to capitulate. Their priority may be additional money for charter schools, instead of Opportunity Scholarships. In 2017, then-Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson secured $20 million in Opportunity Scholarship tax credits in a similar situation. Surely, Lombardo and Senate leaders can do better than that. More thoughts after it plays out.

One bit of good news is that Lombardo vetoed Senate Bill 239. The legislation would have legalized assisted suicide for those with six months or less to live. Two doctors would have had to agree on the severity of the illness.

An aside: Nevada can’t obtain drugs to execute death row criminals. But a majority of legislative Democrats want to give noncriminals access to lethal drugs. What a backward world.

Proponents of assisted suicide invoke powerful emotions. They share stories of individuals enduring significant pain who want to end their lives. No one doubts their suffering.

With emotionally charged issues, it’s easy for the debate to shift from the issue at hand to a debate over whether one has sympathy for those involved.

But emotions aside, the case against euthanasia rests on the widely shared belief that human life is uniquely valuable. Just look at the effort society normally takes to stop people from killing themselves. For instance, the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is available by dialing or texting 988.

In Western tradition, this idea stems from the belief that people are made in God’s image. That makes humans more important than animals or plants. Without a belief in God, it’s hard to make a compelling case for this. But most people aren’t digging into this deep enough to experience cognitive dissonance.

OK, assisted suicide proponents might say, but people should still have control over their own lives.

That misses the point. Public policy — by necessity — involves the public. Assisted suicide isn’t about the legality of suicide. It’s about whether we should give affirmative public approval to people killing themselves.

What a destructive, horrible message. Society shouldn’t tell people that killing themselves is better than living. Once that shift happens, things often get ugly quickly. The Netherlands legalized euthanasia two decades ago. Last year, more than 5 percent of its deaths came via assisted suicide. Canada legalized the practice in 2016, but only for the terminally ill. That didn’t last long. Eligibility is now so widespread that euthanasia was the sixth-leading cause of death in 2021.

Those who have the courage to endure pain deserve praise for the example they set for everyone else.

Victor Joecks’ column appears in the Opinion section each Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. Contact him at vjoecks@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4698. Follow @victorjoecks on Twitter.

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