Gorsuch Could Surprise Or Horrify On Social Issues

By Donald A. Collins | 1 February 2017
Church and State

Judge Neil Gorsuch delivers remarks after being nominated by President Donald Trump to the Supreme Court during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House on Jan. 31, 2017.

The handsome young man, Neil Gorsuch, with his lovely young wife (at almost 86 I see 49 as young) who appeared on January 31st with President Trump to receive his highly touted selection to the US Supreme Court, by all media accounts, seems to be blissfully sure of where he stands on human rights issues. The route on how he got there—with mentors such as Justices Scalia and Kennedy—Gorsuch acknowledged most gratefully.

The sureness of youth about controversial issues almost evokes a laugh from me since I know I too felt so sure of some things at his age.

In 2006, he wrote a book on what he calls assisted suicide. That term “suicide” for those of us who have worked for humane choices at the end of life is akin to calling those against choice for abortion “anti-choice” or murderers. However, I know of no pro choice murders of any pro life advocates.

One should find reality in prose by reading Joyce Carol Oates’s new novel, “A Book of American Martyrs” on the subject of knowing the truth—which when carried on religious wings can never be ascertained.

The Washington Post offered us a bit of what Gorsuch said on his misnamed subject of dying with dignity.

Not since 2006 has the Supreme Court taken up a case involving “death with dignity” legislation—the handful of state laws that allow people to end their lives with the help of a physician. That year, the court handed a victory to death with dignity advocates, ruling that the attorney general could not bar doctors in Oregon—the first state to pass such a law—from giving terminally ill patients drugs to facilitate suicide.

It was only the third time the court had heard a case challenging such statutes, and the six-member majority tread lightly, recognizing the sensitivity of the issue.

“Americans are engaged in an earnest and profound debate,” the majority wrote, quoting from a previous opinion, “about the morality, legality, and practicality of physician-assisted suicide.”

That debate is far from resolved today—and it’s one Neil Gorsuch, President Trump’s nominee to the high court, will surely be eager to weigh in on, should he win confirmation.

On February 1, 2017, Matthew Sheffield’s article entitled “Trump’s enigmatic Supreme Court pick: Neil Gorsuch is too conservative for many liberals, too liberal for some conservatives” contained a second headline, “Democrats may seek revenge for the Merrick Garland blockade, while some on the right suspect Gorsuch is impure” we got some interesting information.

Some claim Gorsuch is not pro life—and he is apparently not Catholic, but a member of a Episcopal church.

Andrew Schlafly, son of the late activist Phyllis Schlafly and a pro-life attorney, told the Washington Times last week that Gorsuch favors terminology used by pro-choice advocates. “Gorsuch is not pro-life,” he was quoted as saying. “That would break Trump’s pro-life pledge to pick Gorsuch.” Other conservatives have pointed to Gorsuch’s membership in an Episcopal church in Boulder, Colorado, whose female pastor attended the Women’s March on Washington and has been associated with other liberal causes.

In a 2009 book, Gorsuch wrote that “the intentional taking of human life by private persons is always wrong,” an apparent rejection of any form of medically assisted suicide. In his ruling in favor of Hobby Lobby Stores, Gorsuch argued that government should not force religious people into “conduct their religion teaches them to be gravely wrong.”

While many conservatives have praised the Gorsuch nomination, some were calling it into question before it was formally announced.

Since 6 of now shortly to be 9 on the Court are Catholics, one would hope that Gorsuch would not be #7 in his voting. Ok, thankfully, Justice Sonia Sotamayor votes with the liberals.

On dying with dignity—not suicide but palliative assistance so one does not die in pain—I have had personal experience, which I encapsulated in a letter to the editor of the Washington Post.

1/31/17 Washington Post

Dear Editor,

With breathtaking pomposity and religious zealotry, Congressman Chaffetz of Utah and no less an authority than Jim DeMint, President of the arch-conservative Heritage Foundation, weigh in on the Medical Aid in Dying for DC in the Washington Post’s Local Opinion Page yesterday.

I am Donald A. Collins, a free lance writer living in Washington DC. When my wife Joan Freedheim Collins was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1989, we were living in San Francisco and had available outstanding medical services which we used to every extent possible for almost 3 ½ years until she died on July 2, 1993. Never during that time did my wife ask for the option to take pills or any means by which she would have ended her life.

She was one of those among us for whom hope was constantly her watchword. And I as her husband supported her throughout even when we resorted to very untested methods which cost far beyond our financial capacity.

So why do I so strongly support the concept of compassionate choice? Very simple. Having the option to decide when one is capable of deciding to end the pain and the endless treatment process ranks in my view alongside the rights which were accorded the LGBT community with the decision just rendered by the US Supreme Court.

I hope that after DC’s overwhelming November 2016 approval of this Dying with Dignity legislation our Congress will not interfere—let the 30 days elapse with no adverse action—to give me the option of taking my own life if necessary, a choice I would rapidly embrace were I put in the same place as my late wife. She made her choice, but mine would be totally different, which is how tough choices should be made in a free country.

The point for all Americans should be that the USA is NOT a Christian, Moslem, Jewish or any other “ism” nation. Our founders were mostly deists but all willing to state in our founding documents that no religious biases should affect secular governance.

Religious incursions into our laws have mounted into madness and bid fair to lead to political divisions which will bring down our laws and our republic.

Will Gorsuch surprise or horrify? Is he Blackmun in disguise? Stay tuned.

Former US Navy officer, banker and venture capitalist, Donald A. Collins, a free lance writer living in Washington, DC., has spent over 40 years working for women’s reproductive health as a board member and/or officer of numerous family planning organizations including Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Guttmacher Institute, Family Health International and Ipas. Yale under graduate, NYU MBA. He is the author of From the Dissident Left: A Collection of Essays 2004-2013.

From the Dissident Left: A Collection of Essays 2004-2013

By Donald A. Collins
Publisher: Church and State Press (July 30, 2014)
ASIN: B00MA40TVE
Kindle Store

Back in 1991, the NGO Don Collins founded in 1976, International Services Assistance Fund (ISAF), co-produced a TV quality 22-minute film called “Whose Choice?” which Ted Turner arranged to broadcast on September 21, 1992 in prime time on his then independent Turner Broadcast System (TBS). Other outlets such as PBS and several of its affiliates Collins and his colleagues contacted then refused to run it because of its forthright treatment of the abortion issue, arguing for all women’s right to choose not to have a baby. ISAF has made a new edition of that DVD. The purpose for reissuing this 3rd version of “Whose Choice?” was simply to show the historical urgency that attended those times, still blocked and attacked over 40 years after the Roe v Wade decision in 1973. This video is available for public viewing for the first time.

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