Sunday, April 14, 2013

Assisted Suicide and Other Forms of Death

Email to Ken Gallinger, Toronto Star Ethics writer, commenting on his April 12, 2013, endorsement of assisted suicide.

A report on assisted suicide requires a more balanced approached than you have presented. It must include safeguards against abuse such as pressure from inheritance-hungry children, family caretakers exhausted from rendering care. Examining the death in bed of a senior, the first thing the police check for is saliva on a pillow. If they find it, a murder investigation begins.This is not "high-sounding moral opinion" but basic common sense.

Also to be considered are the possibility of temporary insanity, depression, financial disappointment, marriage break-up, loss of a loved one, and other reasons some bordering on the frivolous. A healthy woman joined her ill husband in a Swiss suicide because she did not want to live without him.Other frivolous reasons await, and are described in my blog essay Death with Debt-Free Dignity.

"To throw every available resource at staving it off" means outside intervention. You must describe those resources, how they would be applied, and in what time frame. In any event, this application would require some delay in the suicide process. How long would you advocate?

A recent report tells of hundreds of urns containing human remains being found at the bottom of Lake Zurich. Indications are they originated with Dignitas, a business that has made that country the suicide capital of the world. The relatives of the deceased did not care enough to have the remains brought home.

As for the disabled opposing assisted suicide, is it the pressures mentioned in my opening paragraph that they fear? Your comparison with abortion is inappropriate, the vast majority of which are done against a healthy child in a healthy mother. The child is destroyed because its existence would prove inconvenient. The taking of any life, be it through abortion, capital punishment, euthanasia, assisted suicide or war, cheapens all life.

Assisted suicide cannot be played two ways. One must offer unconditional assisted suicide on demand, or not. In the latter case, conditions must be clearly stated.

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