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Exceptions to assisted suicide eventually will fall away, as they must

by Andrew Coyne, National Post, 15 April 2016

Andrew Coyne analyses the Canadian experience of legalising assisted suicide from the Supreme Court decision to the recently introduced bill, and observes that “When you are normalizing suicide, don’t be surprised if it leads to some nightmarish places.”

The government has introduced legislation in response to the court’s ruling, and what is the chief complaint? That it does not include children and the mentally incompetent. What once was unthinkable is now indispensable. The extraordinary step of authorizing doctors (and nurse practitioners: another innovation), sworn down the centuries to save lives, to take them instead, has been swallowed and digested as if it were nothing. The debate has moved on to its next inevitable stage.

For the logic of assisted suicide permits no other outcome. Once suicide has been accepted, as a formal matter of law, not as something we should wish at all times to prevent, but as relief from intolerable suffering; once it has been established that an individual has a right to such relief, not by his own hand but by another’s; once assisting in suicide has been transformed from a crime into a public service, there is no grounds to limit that relief, that right or that service to some sufferers and not to others.

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