The Coercive Implications of Legalization
Campaigning for a change in the law is often presented as concern for free choices. In fact, a change in the law will mean less freedom from state intrusion. In this chapter, I first show that the choice offered with the legalization of assisted suicide is illusory; analysing recent legislation in Oregon and Washington and recent legislative proposals in the UK, it is plain that doctors and courts, not patients, have a monopoly on choice with regard to assisted suicide. Today, proposals for legalization envisage ‘professionalization’ of assisted suicide administration in which experts decide on the worthiness of requests for assisted suicide, a far cry from the autonomy-based arguments — flawed as they were and still are — of the right-to-die movement in the 1970s and 1980s. When we ask doctors or judges to decide upon the legitimacy of reasons for requesting an assisted suicide, we allow them to colonize our most intimate thoughts and influence what should be the most personal decision ever made. Not only is our privacy threatened, legalizing assisted suicide would undermine the important freedom to refuse medical treatment. I end with a robust defence of the classical freedom espoused by those such as John Stuart Mill and a suggestion that might obviate the need for assisted suicide.
KeywordsMoral Responsibility Suicide Rate Liberal Democratic Party Assisted Suicide Competent Adult
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