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assisted suicide

March 4, 2010

I heard about this on the radio yesterday:

The Suicide Tourist

What a heartbreaking story. It’s about a man named Craig Ewert, a retired professor living in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, England, who was suffering from ALS and decided to end his own life via assisted suicide. The worst part was hearing an interview with Ewert’s wife, who said that they could have had more time together if assisted suicide was legal in England. (In England, assisted suicide is punishable by up to 14 years in jail.) Since it wasn’t, Ewert, who decided it was better to do it while he was still physically capable, travelled to Switzerland where assisted suicide is legal.

I’ve never really seen assisted suicide as a black or white issue, especially from the point of view of the physician or whoever is providing the assistance, but sometimes we’re just not able to endure all of the difficult circumstances life has to throw at us. Incurable illnesses that cause great amounts of pain and/or cause one to become a prisoner in their own body can be unbearable for the average person, and it’s absurd to expect that everyone should live up to some idealized standard of morality that’s arbitrarily placed upon human existence or exhibit superhuman endurance.

I think individuals should have the right to do what they want with their bodies, and I support a person’s right to end their own life with help if and when they are deemed to be sober and of sound mind. I applaud Montana, Oregon and Washington here in the U.S. for their allowance of physician-assisted suicide. In my mind, it’s a personal choice that’s the individual’s alone to make, and denying a person that choice is equivalent to torture.

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