“Having the right to die gives me the control I need to have a peaceful death.”

Here’s quick answer number four from COLF‘s “quick answers to common arguments” about euthanasia and assisted suicide.

“Having the right to die, even if I never exercise it, gives me the control I need to have a peaceful death.”

A peaceful death comes from acceptance not control. It is important that those people who are suffering are given compassion and help on their journey towards acceptance, until their natural death.

Focusing on controlling the circumstances of one’s death seems like a bit of an exercise of futility and resistance—not the most peaceful of approaches.

Requests for euthanasia and assisted suicide are often made out of a profound sense of despair. They are generally a call for help. At the heart of such a request is a profound fear of the pain the person may have to endure and of being alone in that suffering. Such a desire is typically transitory, especially when we respond to it with true compassion.

I was suprised when I first learnt this. Alex Schadenerg speaks out this in detail.

Our society has always reached out to suicidal citizens who need help in living, not help in dying. It would be quite a contradiction to continue funding distress centers and suicide prevention programs while legalizing assisted suicide. If people chose to die while temporarily depressed or in intense pain, instead of receiving proper medical attention, they will potentially be deprived of many good years of life.

Killing people is a lousy cop out, when people really need care. Telling someone, “oh, you need help? Sure! We can kill you!” is not providing them with a real solution to their problems.

Dying patients who are no longer competent to make their own decisions may find that physicians and members of their families take control and decide to end their life. For example, this could happen if a person has prepared a living will clearly stating his or her desire to be euthanized under certain circumstances, but no longer wishes to be killed once the time comes. The so-called right to choose death could become the right of other people to force your choice on you once you have become incompetent.

I think this is one of the most important points: legalized euthanasia empowers no one. Barbara Kay concludes that article, addressing one of the letters to the editor from Alex McKay in support of legalisation:

Ironically, if euthanasia and/or assisted suicide are legalized (philosophically it comes to the same thing), by the time Mr. McKay’s “wonderful life” has become less wonderful to the point of chronic pain and suffering, he may find, to his surprise, that against all logic he wishes to “cruelly extend” his life. But he may also find — nothing could be more logical — that others around him reproach him, saying no, “life is for the living,” and therefore it is unconscionable for him to have such expectations.

And thus, as is so often the case with those who privilege “logic” over human nature and the natural law, Mr. McKay, and others who are so smugly sure they know in advance what their late-life wishes will be, may be chagrined to discover that the words “deny me my dignity” and “against my will” have taken on a whole new — and rather macabre –meaning.

It is a false choice. It’s not about control—euthanasia is a public safety issue.


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