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Monday, September 28, 2015

Your Right to Die Isn’t Enough

By Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig
The New Republic
Originally published July 15, 2015

Here is an excerpt:

Some opponents of assisted suicide legislation are concerned that, with assisted suicide on the table, exhausted doctors and cash-strapped families might coerce ill family members into taking this cheap, quick way out rather than suffering through further treatments and payments for terminal illness. Others worry that legal assisted suicide will transform culture in such a way that the option to die will eventually be interpreted as an obligation to do so after a certain point, creating a slippery slope from legal to de-facto compulsory. Still others fear that euthanasia advocates don’t appropriately take into account the possibility of spontaneous remission, and worry that readiness to end the lives of terminally ill patients would foreclose the possibility of recovery for those with the potential for it, however slim.

There is little evidence that legal euthanasia contributes to the coercion of the poor, and numbers on spontaneous remission can usually be adduced for any given terminal disease, which helps prevent the what-if objection from gaining much traction. Yet there is reason to worry about a slippery slope forming between the legal but rare option of euthanasia for the terminally ill and the haphazard elective suicide of persons with no real physical illness. At this moment, for example, a 24-year-old Belgian woman is awaiting assisted suicide for no reason other than her unhappiness. She won’t be the first: a friend of hers who also suffered from depression was euthanized for that condition less than two years ago, following in the footsteps of numerous people with sad life experiences or momentary shocks who, thanks to Belgian law, sought death instead of treatment.

The entire article is here.