Editor’s note. This is a letter to the editor that appeared in a Vermont newspaper, the Times Argus.
Physician-assisted suicide is promoted as a way to prevent human suffering but more often is used by people who are afraid of being a burden to others, loss of dignity and the ability to enjoy life. These issues can be addressed with good hospice care. Vermont could be a model here.
Personal autonomy and choice are used to justify physician-assisted suicide, and if you follow that logic where does it end? Why should physician-assisted suicide be limited to patients who have two months left to live? Aren’t patients with four years left to live going to suffer more (longer)? How about those who are chronically depressed and desire physician-assisted suicide, what about their suffering and right to self-determination? In Switzerland the supreme court has created a constitutional right to assisted suicide for the mentally ill — after all, killing is an acceptable treatment to human suffering, right?
Vermont has a suicide problem; 8.5 percent of high school students have attempted it. Do we really want to normalize and sanction suicide as a treatment for suffering? What message would that send? …