Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Denying Assisted Suicide Rights Based on Potential “Abuse” is Immoral

A bill legalizing assisted suicide in New Jersey is working its way through the legislature. The bill, A2270 sponsored by Assemblyman John Burzichelli, is dubbed the Aid in Dying Act. A2270 would legalize doctor-assisted suicide for terminally ill patients diagnosed as having less than six months to live.

The Aid in Dying Act was the subject of a July letter published in the New Jersey Star-Ledger by anti-assisted suicide activist Diane Coleman, writing as President of Not Dead Yet. Coleman wrote, in part:

When it comes to emotion as a barrier to reason, assisted suicide’s proponents have a much bigger problem than opponents.

The bill doesn’t prevent abuse; it hides it. Legislators have a duty to set aside emotion and think about seriously ill people who don’t have a loving family and need the law to protect them.

I left these comments:

When it comes to reason—and morality—those opposed to legalization of assisted suicide have the bigger problem.

Yes, the law must protect against the taking of life against the patient’s wishes. But the law should also protect the right of every individual of sound mind to end his life on his [own] terms, whether that choice is made consciously by the patient at the time of death or carried out by third parties based on a living will. In fact, my problem with Assemblyman John Burzichelli’s “Aid in Dying” bill is that it’s too restrictive. Why require a diagnosis of six months to live? What of someone who, by his own rational judgment, is living an existence of living death and wants to end it? As a 65 year old, I certainly would want my right to die with dignity respected and protected by law.

The idea that the right to end one’s life with professional assistance should be denied to everyone because of the “potential” for abuse by the few is morally corrupt and inimical to basic liberties. On that premise, no one should have any rights whatsoever, since any right can be abused.

[NOTE: The phrase "or carried out by third parties based on a living will" should not be construed to imply support for euthanasia. What I mean here is that if an adult of sound mind, alert and lucid, is physically unable to administer the lethal drug, it would be legal for another, should he choose, to administer the dose under the dieing patient's observation and direction. In this situiation, a living will would not come into play. I do not support legalized euthanasia.]

Related Reading:

Diane Coleman's Opposition to Assisted Suicide Ignores Rights - PART 2

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