Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Arguments for assisted suicide

Writing in the Star Tribune, a Minnesota pastor, Trish Greeves, argues for the legalization of physician-assisted suicide.

By not allowing the practice, she writes, we are "legally compelling someone to endure the pain and indignity of an extended terminal illness when they wish to make a different decision." She notes that euthanasia is often the right decision for animals, in order to prevent needless suffering; why should humans be any different?

Greeves adds: "A disproportionate share of total health care costs are expended on elderly patients in the final months of their lives, often involving expensive facilities and treatment to prolong their lives, even as the patients are praying to die. I wonder what percentage of health care costs could be saved, with no decrease in quality of care and an increase in personal choice, if laws in the other 49 states were changed to legalize carefully regulated physician-assisted dying similar to Oregon's Death With Dignity Act?"

So Greeves argues, first, that there is nothing morally wrong with voluntary euthanasia or assisted suicide, and second, that legalizing assisted suicide makes practical sense (it will save us money).

I'll respond to Greeves directly in a future post. For pro-life responses to pro-euthanasia/assisted suicide arguments, see the resources below from the Robert Powell Center for Medical Ethics at National Right to Life.