All of these sensible-seeming regulations lay bare the illogic of the claim that there is “right” to die. This is because if there really is a right to die, why should the scope of who is permitted to commit suicide be limited to the terminally ill, or those who are in pain? If one begins with the premise that there is a “right” to die, then it follows logically that all suicide should be legalized.
…More deeply, this indicates the foolishness of legalizing assisted suicide at all. Indeed, legalizing assisted suicide has the effect of bureaucratizing what would otherwise be a personal, private choice. In sum, rather than increase the scope of personal liberty, legalizing assisted suicide actually shrinks it. Laws like Oregon’s Death With Dignity act say: you only have the power over your own body if a group of doctors and government officials says you do. How is this consistent with the notion of the individual ”right” to die? And where is the dignity in submitting yourself before a panel of doctors who will determine whether you qualify for state-sanctioned suicide?
For someone who calls his column “Epstein’s Razor” and tops it with a picture of himself looking supercilious as all hell, you would think this wouldn’t be too hard to grasp, so I suspect he’s missing the point on purpose.
First of all, “rights” are, by definition, granted (and revoked, let’s not forget) by the state, so anyone pressing for the legal right — see, the word “legal” should be a clue here — to do this, that, or the other will obviously be looking to the state to grant it to them. Despite his smarmy attempt to pretend otherwise, this doesn’t have anything to do with personal liberty, any more than the absence of legalized gay marriage means that gay couples can’t love each other or enter into committed relationships. You can and may die whenever you want, by whatever means you choose, as people always have and will. But if you want to die in a hospital or hospice by means of a lethal dose of highly controlled medication administered by a professional, as opposed to messier, more painful DIY methods, you’ll need the state’s permission, and the utilitarian standard they’ve pretty much settled on is a loss of autonomy due to terminal illness. These people are agitating for the right of certain terminally ill patients to die in highly specific circumstances of their choosing, not as a general principle for all citizens at all times.
And while having to petition a panel of doctors to consider your case may be undignified to some, most people who don’t have a religious or extreme anti-statist agenda would certainly concur that it beats slowly wasting away in agony while needing a nurse to wash your ass and change your diapers.