“It’s my life, my death, my freedom, my choice, my right!”

As an extension of last week’s series on euthanasia and assisted suicide, we’ll be diving into COLF‘s “quick answers to common arguments” document. This is the first argument.

“It’s my life, my death, my freedom, my choice, my right!”

Euthanasia and assisted suicide are not private matters. These acts involve third parties such as physicians, pharmacists, family and friends who then have to carry the guilt of having killed another human being.

As with the abortion debate, we see proponents of euthanasia and assisted suicide falsely promoting the idea that this is a private matter. Like abortion, when tax payer dollars are going to fund it, the matter is placed firmly in the public square.

For many vulnerable citizens, legalizing euthanasia would only provide the illusion of choice – choice as a lie. Given the reality of Canada’s aging population and growing healthcare costs, they might be forced to accept euthanasia in order to avoid financial strain on the healthcare system. Their so-called “right to die” might soon become a “duty to die”.

As Barbara Kay explained over the summer, Legalized euthanasia empowers no one.

Changing Canadian law to allow euthanasia would have a profound effect on many vulnerable people. Even if euthanasia respects the autonomy of some, it endangers the lives of many others including persons with disabilities, the elderly, and those struggling with depression or severe illness. Such a law would be a guaranteed recipe for abuse of the vulnerable; it would be incapable of protecting them from coercion by family members and others.

This is an inevitable result of considering “death” to be appropriate “care.”

No one is an island. My choices and decisions have an impact on others and on society as a whole. My freedom and my rights have limits; they must respect the freedom and rights of other people. Personal freedom, self-determination and individual rights are not absolutes. They can be overridden to protect other values in society (for example to protect the rights of vulnerable citizens and the common good).

This strikes me as an important but more challenging argument to make. I haven’t participated in enough debates or discussions around euthanasia and assisted suicide to know how right-to-die proponents would react… but certainly worthy of discussion.

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