Ross Douthat provides a completely argument-free rant against assisted suicide. Apparently his emotions are self-justifying, needing no assistance from reason.
He points out that if suicide is sometimes an appropriate choice, or at least a choice with which the state shouldn’t interfere, that must logically apply to some people who aren’t currently terminally ill, and then triumphantly reports that some practitioners have helped non-terminal as well as terminal patients.
So what? If Mr. Douthat doesn’t want to kill himself, that’s his right. But by what right does he presume to make the choice for others? He reports being “proud” that, here in the Land of the Free, his prejudices are reflected in current law. But he never says why.
A reasoned account of the matter would try to deal with two difficult issues: people whose suicidal impulses are the transient consequences of despair or mental illness and who, if prevented from doing the deed, will retrospectively be happy to have been stopped, and the risk of the aged and elderly feeling social pressure to off themselves. (That pressure will get worse if Mr. Douthat’s political allies manage to wreck Medicare.)
But when someone makes the considered judgment that his or her life is better ended sooner rather than later – “My work is done,” wrote George Eastman. “Why wait?” – that person should be able to act on that judgment, with whatever technical help is required.
Ironically, the need for assisted suicide is restricted to those with severe physical limitations. Anyone with the full use of his limbs can take himself off cheaply and painlessly with equipment easily obtained from a party-supply store and a hardware store. The fact that the law denies an easy out to those physically incapable of doing the job themselves is not, I submit, something to be proud of.