At the end of December, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, a Republican, vetoed a bill that was passed by his state legislature to protect minors from experimental transgender medical interventions (often referred to as “gender-affirming care”). As part of his justification for the veto, Governor DeWine repeated claims from pro-transgender activists that minors with gender dysphoria (identifying with a gender other than their biological sex) are likely to commit suicide if they can’t take hormones or undergo “treatments” to make their bodies resemble those of the opposite sex (while it appears possible that another justification for the Governor’s veto could relate to money issues).

Making optimum use of the threat of suicide is one of the keys to the progressives’ winning strategy on the gender dysphoria issue as relates to minors. It has, not surprisingly, produced yet another win for the Left in the politics of American life and the battle for the soul of the country.

But we must not be fooled. While suicide is one of the worst acts that a human being can engage in, the threat of it happening to our friends, neighbors and relatives necessarily requires careful consideration and analysis.

Agreement on the Avoidance of Suicide

Most Americans on the Left, Center, and Right can all agree that suicide is something to be avoided. For Catholics (such as myself), the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) identifies it as a grievous sin against the fifth commandment. We believe that a human person is neither the author nor the supreme arbiter of his/her life, but rather that God is the sovereign master (CCC 2280). Many in the non-religious (as well as the anti-religious) community also agree that killing oneself is a bad act (although it is not entirely clear on what basis these individuals use to draw their conclusion).

Origins of the Left’s Successful Use of the Suicide Issue

The strategy employed by the progressive Left of making use of the threat of ending one’s own life in order to justify a questionable/debatable practice has its origins in the abortion arena. It has been used successfully after the 1973 Supreme Court decision of Roe v. Wade to justify late-term abortions, which is despite the fact that the holding in Roe drew a clear line at viability. Presently, in the post-Roe environment, a similar strategy continues to be used in many states to allow late-term abortions of pre-born infants.

The background to the Left’s original strategy involving the threat of suicide is a follows: Roe introduced the novel “health of the mother exception” as a fundamental change to the historic limited exception that allowed abortions solely for the protection of the “life” of the mother (which is basically a standard self-defense exception that the law generally allows in cases where two lives are at issue). With a subtle change in the wording (i.e., merely changing the word “life” to “health”), the next step was to define the phrase “health of the mother” (which was strategically placed in the companion case of Doe v. Bolton) by including a long list of relevant exception factors, of which “psychological health” was one of them. As a result, the phrase “I am going to commit suicide” when uttered by any pregnant mother automatically became the magic words to permit late-term abortions, under the argument that suicide is bad and should always be avoided (which apparently to the drafters, was necessarily irrespective of any other issue(s)).

Suicide is to be Avoided, but is it an Absolute?

While we may collectively agree that suicide is to be avoided, this does not necessarily mean that at the mere mention of the term one should automatically agree to the other sides’ solution/proposal for any given problem. The decision to highlight the threat of suicide is no doubt a deliberate strategy, for in doing so, the intent of the progressive Left is to get those on the opposite side to surrender without considering the other relevant issues. But do not be fooled; while suicide should no doubt be avoided, there should be no carte blanche provided in seeking to avoid the potential for its threat.

Despite the need to avoid suicides, it is nevertheless quite easy to come up with many examples where the avoidance of the threat of suicide does not operate as an absolute. For example, it would be absurd to think that a child who dislikes one of their family members could use the threat of their own suicide to justify the killing of another family member. Putting the issue of gender dysphoria aside, a less extreme example is simply to think of anything that the law does not allow, and then try to identify any case where the threat of suicide by a minor justifies or excuses an act that would otherwise not be permitted (hint: there are none).

An intentional Strategy

Just because one does not agree to a proposed idea, such as experimental transgender medical interventions as a solution to gender dysphoria for minors, it does not mean those who oppose this solution are arguing in favor of suicide, that they are potentially neutral on the topic of ending one’s own life, or that they do not care about children. This is another aspect of the carefully devised strategy, one that is repeatedly used by the Left to win battles. Specifically, the intent is to label anyone who is not in favor of what they are seeking as being “evil,” “dim-witted,” “uncaring” and/or “cold-hearted,” with the end-goal being to shut down questions/concerns, and to ultimately force those who oppose them to give in to what is being proposed.

It should therefore not be difficult to understand why the Left makes frequent use of avoiding the threat of suicide in addressing the gender dysphoria issue for minors. As we can see from this latest example in Ohio, it is used for one very good and simple reason: it works.

The (Unintended?) Consequences

In a redo of the strategy employed on the abortion front, the avoidance of suicide is now used to justify experimental transgender medical interventions on minors. Consequently, the threat of suicide currently justifies not only late-term abortions (in certain states), but additionally such horrific practices as the irreversible damaging and/or mutilation of otherwise physically healthy bodies of children. It also operates to justify the violation of the physician’s longstanding oath to “do no harm,” and is regrettably being used to place vitally important decisions in the hands of minors (under what appears to be nothing more than the ever-popular but selfish argument, “give me what I want, or you will be sorry”).

In the end, the effectiveness of the strategy described above helps to explain why the progressive Left continues to win the battles in which it is employed, which unfortunately may be leading us further and further towards what appears to be our own collective demise.

How to Respond

In order to address this strategy we should all be extraordinarily careful to think matters through, and not to let ourselves be fooled. While it is certainly positive when people on both sides of an issue are in agreement that a particularly terrible practice such as suicide should be avoided, there is no valid reason to roll over and play dead, or to “give away the farm” at the mere mention of the word. Rather, in each situation where a potential threat of suicide emerges, the next step should always be a rationale and reasoned analysis regarding what should or should not be done to address the threat, taking into account all of the various relevant personal, moral, and legal issues, while at the same time seeking to remain consistent with your values throughout the decision-making process.

Yes, suicide is bad, but the threat of it does not operate as a blanket license to engage in any and all activities that a progressively inclined human being can dream of or desire.

So let us endeavor not to be fooled again. Rather, when encountering questionable proposals offered in the name of solving difficult societal problems, let us insist on thinking through the issues, and most importantly, staying true to what we believe in our hearts to be the most appropriate solution to the problem at hand.

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