Thursday, May 1, 2014

Does Allowing Assisted Suicide "INSERT the Government Into Private Decision-Making," or Remove It?

In the comments section of the article The Right to Choose Death, I had this discussion with a correspondent who opposes assisted suicide.

John from Middletown wrote:
Legalized assisted suicide INSERTS the government into private decision-making by declaring that some suicides are a form of treatment,
This almost sounds like a twist on George Orwell's 1984 "Slavery is Freedom." But I left that out of my comments:

Legally recognizing the rights of individuals to make their own end-of-life decisions and of doctors and their patients to voluntarily contract to that end makes no such declaration. The government is simply (and properly) REMOVING itself from these private decisions.

The government's proper job is to protect individual rights, not forcibly "insert" any particular viewpoint into people's decision-making. Properly structured legislation would do just that.

John from Middletown wrote:
So if a 25-year-old with diabetes goes to the doctor and says that they are suffering so badly and can't go on and would like to have assisted suicide so they don't have to die a gruesome death after they stopped taking insulin, do they get assisted suicide? People with diabetes and multiple sclerosis are starting to show up out in Oregon. How about the person with severe depression who insists that their suffering is worse than anything Imaginable? Assisted suicide laws set up the government as the final arbiter of who dies and who stays alive. No psychological evaluation no witness at the death, no guarantee that you are actually even terminal, a recipe for disaster. And since when do governments run programs that don't get abused? Unless you are offering government-sponsored suicide to every single resident of Connecticut when they want it, you will be making decisions about whose life is valuable and who isn't.

Here is my reply:

John, I have no idea what you're talking about. So, let me state my position more clearly.

The government has no business sponsoring suicide. The government has no business running programs. The government should certainly not be the final arbiter of who dies and who stays alive. That's precisely why there should be no laws either forbidding, facilitating, or regulating suicide. A proper government is neutral, otherwise whatever special interest faction gains political control WILL become the arbiter. The government simply should step out of the way, and let patients, doctors, hospitals, and insurers contract voluntarily (or not), provided they are all consenting adults of sound mind. What right does anyone have to interfere? It should be recognized in law that every individual is rightfully and morally the final and only arbiter of his own life, and the value thereof. Translated, that means the inalienable right to life and liberty.

Of course, no doctor, hospital, or insurer should be forced to provide these services. They have a right to establish their own policies and guidelines, based on their own judgment.

To repeat, the government's proper job is to protect individual rights; which means, it only steps in when evidence surfaces that someone is violating another person's rights.

John still didn't get it:

If the government were to be neutral, it would either supply lethal barbiturates to anyone who asked for it ,or it would provide suicide prevention services to everyone who wants to kill themselves.

The statist mentality is apparently so embedded in John's worldview that he can't conceive of what it means to have a rights-protecting government. There would be no convincing him at this point. But for the benefit of other viewers, I replied:

A government that either supplies lethal barbiturates or provides suicide prevention services is anything but neutral. For one thing, it must first seize wealth from taxpayers to pay for it, whether they agree or not. A neutral government simply doesn't get involved one way or the other.

Related Reading:

Right to Death—and to Life

The Role of Rights in the Assisted Suicide Debate

1 comment:

Mike Kevitt said...

John's whole problem might be that he's confused about the difference between assisted suicide and euthanasia. He might be told the whole difference consists of who pulls the trigger, and that that depends on what & how the procedure is set up, then on who carries it out.