Opinion | America the Merciless

Of the lines that remain for me: Quote from Stroman’s legal team, “”There is nothing illogical in a system where society does not always satisfy the victim’s desire for revenge, but always respects the victim’s desire for mercy. “”

Bloom’s memoir may seem to have little in common with the other two. But America’s indifference to those who suffer at the end of their lives stands in stark contrast to those who await their diminished lives on death row.

In January 2020, Bloom accompanied her 66-year-old husband, Brian, recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, to Zurich, the only place in the world where Americans can travel for a “painless, peaceful and legal suicide.” The few places in the United States where assisted suicide is allowed impose restrictions so stringent that they are difficult for in-state residents to adhere to, and often nearly impossible for anyone out of state. Brian’s death comes by his own wish and by his own hand, and while marked by grief, there’s nothing undesirable about it. That’s how, I thought as I read, it’s done – and yet we can’t do it that way here in America.

Among the lines that stick with me: Quoting a doctor, “‘When any kind of right-to-die legislation is proposed – the opposition comes in with $10 million when it comes to your right to choose.’

At worst, we display an undeniable force of ruthlessness ourselves, in a way that has invaded our culture. Minor errors are considered capital offences. Apologies are often forced and true forgiveness rare. In the desire to identify and condemn an ‚Äč‚Äčenemy, we do not allow people to make amends. The desire for justice and accountability too often veers towards blame, retribution and self-denial.

Well, then I won’t end up here with more blame. It would be inaccurate, in any case, to attribute these policies entirely to the American people when polls suggest that most would not choose these arrangements. A majority of Americans, 72% in 2018, support euthanasia and 65% in 2018 support physician-assisted suicide. About six in 10 Americans think abortion should be legal in all or most cases. A minority – about 39% – but still a significant number of Americans oppose the death penalty. Yet majorities admit that innocent people could be killed and that in practice the current system is racist.

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