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26.4.04

Assisted Suicide

M. Scott Eiland has given us 20 statements summarizing his political stance. Surprisingly, I more or less agree with a fair number of them -- 2, 4, 6, 12, 14, 15 (if you change statements about actual safety to statements about percieved safety), 16 (except that I do care quite a bit), and 17. But I think he's got something a little backwards in one of his points:

7. Assisted suicide is a dicey issue. I get creeped out by the idea of doctors being officially given approval to help people die, but I'm sympathetic to terminally ill people who want to end their pointless suffering. I'd just as soon not give doctors obtain this sort of license, and rather keep such arrangements informal and therefore subject to review in cases of obvious abuse.


Despite making some strong statements in favor of assisted suicide, I can certainly see Eiland's point about possible abuses and share his general squeamishness about the procedure. His conclusion is that people can do it, but it should be illegal so that we can bust the crooked suicide doctors with ease. But I think that making it formal would make it more subject to review. It would allow a protective structure to grow up around the practice, reducing the frequency of abuse and giving potential patients and families some peace of mind. And it would make the abuse/not abuse line clear and public rather than leaving it to the discretion of prosecutors. (What we have is an implementation of the mild-libertarian "legalize and regulate" argument, most famous for its application to drugs, abortion, and prostitution. I don't think this argument is necessarily applicable in all cases, but assisted suicide seems like a good one.)

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