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Death on Demand

Wesley J. Smith

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The Swiss Supreme Court has ruled that people with mental illnesses can be legally assisted in suicide. The case came about when a member of Dignitas, an organization that, for a fee, provides a safe house for, and assistance with, suicide, brought a lawsuit seeking the right to have his death facilitated. The man does not have cancer, AIDS, or another physical illness, as that term is popularly understood. Rather, he is depressed from bipolar disease. But this does not mean that he does not have a right to die. According to the International Herald Tribune, the Swiss high court ruled, "It must be recognized that an incurable, permanent, serious mental disorder can cause similar suffering as a physical (disorder), making life appear unbearable to the patient in the long term."

No one should be surprised by the Swiss ruling. The two weight-bearing ideological pillars of euthanasia/assisted suicide advocacy -- a radical individualistic notion of "self-ownership" and the deemed propriety of killing as an acceptable answer to the problem of human suffering -- virtually compel this result. After all, many people suffer more intensely and for far longer than people who are dying. And, if choice is the be all and end all of personal freedom, then who can gainsay a suffering person's decision to die? Hence, rather than being a radical extension of assisted suicide ideology, the Swiss court decision is simply its logical outcome.

Indeed, the Swiss court is not the first to issue such a ruling. More than ten years ago, the Dutch Supreme Court reached a strikingly similar conclusion in a decision interpreting the parameters of the Netherlands' euthanasia program.

Read the entire article on the First Things website (new window will open).

Posted: 22-Mar-07



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