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Assisted suicide vs. liberal values

by Charles Camosy, New York Daily Times, 30 January 2017

The New York state legislature is facing yet another push to legalise assisted suicide. Dr Camosy, a bioethics specialist at Fordham University, explains why assisted suicide is “antithetical to liberal values”.

Most people who honestly contemplate the long-term consequences of this legislation realize that legalizing the practice does the opposite of what is intended.


We cannot let difficult and emotional cases make bad law. Palliative care — and especially terminal sedation — can now keep almost all patients from feeling even the worst pain. Stories like Paulin’s above conjure up scary images of patients writhing in torment — but in reality physical pain doesn’t even make the top five reasons people request physician-assisted suicide.

But there is absolutely no way to control the reasons why anyone requests assisted suicide. Which leads to impossible questions: What’s the basis for limiting it to those who will die in six months; why not six years? Why need one be dying in the first place? We are told in other medical contexts, after all, that the state is not to get between a patient and her doctor.

On other issues, liberals rightly focus on how laws affect vulnerable populations. Liberals in Massachusetts worried that older people, already thought to be a drain or burden in a culture which worships youth and capital production, might be pressured to consider assisted suicide.

Those of us with progressive philosophies must instead unequivocally affirm the goodness of the existence of the old and sick. Especially when our consumerist culture tells them they have no net value.

Click here to read the full article.

Click here to read the Care Alliance Secretary’s article at Pundit ‘Assisted suicide is not a progressive issue’.

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