Published July 03, 2008
Calling it assisted suicide from now on
In the background of the debate over I-1000, which would let terminally ill people get lethal drugs, was the debate over what to call it.The proposal is called "Death with Dignity," but opponents like to call it "assisted suicide." Supporters of I-1000 really donít like associating someone with six months or less to live, in continuous pain, with "suicide." They see it as a negative connotation.Thurston County Superior Court Judge Chris Wickham rejected calling it "physician-assisted suicide," calling the term "loaded." His decision led to the phrase "aid in dying."The debate, Iím told, went to the top of the Associated Pressí command center back in New York, and the ruling was "assisted suicide." That means member papers, including The Olympian, are likely to follow the line. Aside from the logic of the argument (it is some one asking for assistance in ending their own life) there's the practical matter of time. Any paper with its own term would have to scan AP stories from across the state and edit out the "assisted suicide" name before running them.Maybe Assisted suicide will be found in the AP Stylebook in the future. It's not now, but here is the official media line on other fatality words:Assassin: An assassin is a politically motivated killer. A killer is anyone who kills with a motive of any kind. A murderer is one who is convicted of murder in a court of law. See execute and the homicide, murder, manslaughter entry.Execute: To execute a person is to kill him in compliance with a military order or judicial decision.Homicide: Homicide is a legal term for slaying or killing. Murder is malicious, premeditated homicide. Some states define certain homicides as murder if the killing occurs in the course of armed robbery, rape, etc. Manslaughter is homicide without malice or premeditation. A person should not be described as a murderer until convicted of the charge. Unless authorities say premeditation was obvious, do not say that a victim was murdered until someone has been convicted in court. Instead, say that a victim was killed or slain.