Kathryn Lopez

Earlier this summer, former Alaska governor and Republican vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin was criticized for deploying hyperbole in her opposition of health-care-reform proposals on the table in Washington, D.C. She warned of end-of-life "death panels." By doing so, she got some pols to back down from proposed "end-of-life counseling" boards that would parcel out advice in a government-controlled health-care system.

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Perhaps Palin could have been more sober. But these are alarming times of radical change. And with her attention-grabbing language, she managed to highlight some of the life-and-death possibilities being batted around by legislators in the Capitol, as well as lethal influences in the air. Considering that, ultimately, vital health-care decisions will very possibly be made in a closed-door conference committee, perhaps the more people hear, the better.

After all, here in the United States, we don't have a good track record for fending off a creeping culture of death. Let's just put aside abortion -- the killing of the most vulnerable, who've never had a say in their own preservation -- for a moment. Consider that one of our president's regrets is that, while in the Senate, he helped legislators to attempt to save the life of Terri Schiavo, a brain-injured Floridian who was ultimately taken off food and hydration in 2005, dying a short time later.

It was a mess of a case, certainly, involving warring family members, courts and a media feeding frenzy, but Obama's statement was a bold one, erring as it did on the side that's not life.

Consider that voters in Oregon and Washington have legalized assisted suicide. Montana, by court order, has followed suit. Assisted suicide, in fact, is a mainstream thing here in America. Charlotte Shultz, wife of former secretary of state George Shultz, recently agreed to be co-chair at a luncheon for a group called Compassion & Choices of Northern California. She joins a sitting U.S. senator, Dianne Feinstein, as co-chair.

Here we seem to be following the lead of our former ruler, which is on a path to destruction. Not too long after Palin's comments, the United Kingdom loosened its restrictions on assisted suicide. The ruling came in response to Debbie Purdy, a woman who suffers from multiple sclerosis. Purdy wants to ensure that, should she desire to kill herself, her husband will not be punished for giving her a hand.

Kathryn Lopez

Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor of National Review Online, writes a weekly column of conservative political and social commentary for Newspaper Enterprise Association.