List of articles
copyright 2017 by Theodore Zuckerman
2017 Oct 07
I am for the right to die. That is, I think that, in practice, an individuals life should be viewed as belonging to the individual, and not to any anyone else, not to any religious organization, not to any organization at all, and not to any supposed deity or supposed supreme being, If I want to die, I think I should be able to kill myself, and I think that there should not be any laws that make it difficult for me to get drugs that will help me do this with the least suffering. At present, to obtain such drugs, for any purpose, one needs a prescription from a physician or other licensed prescriber. So at present my right to die is not nonexistent, but it is impaired: I have the right to die by hanging myself, by placing my head on railroad tracks, by jumping off a cliff, by shooting myself in the temple, by shooting a bullet into my palate, by pushing a hunting knife into my heart, by cutting open my abdomen with a long, sharp sword and pulling my abdominal organs out of my abdomen, but I don't have the right to die by dissolving a large number of barbiturate pills in a glass of carrot juice, or a large number of opioid pills, or some of each.
A quick look at the title of the North Carolina bill, House Bill 789, immediately suggests that it isn't really going to be talking about giving a citizen the right to die, but rather, it is going to be talking about giving physicians the right to decide who should be allowed to kill themselves with the least suffering, and who should not be allowed to kill themselves with the least suffering – who should be forced to suffer if they wish to kill themselves.
Just look at the title of the NC bill, HB 789.
"An act establishing an end of life option act to allow qualified patients diagnosed with a terminal disease to end life in a humane and dignified manner."
What about a "middle of life option"? No middle of life option? Well, what might have been the middle of life, is the end of life, if you kill yourself. So there is no other option to kill oneself but an end of life option. Therefore there is no need to categorize an option to end one's life as an end of life option, as opposed to a middle of life option or a beginning of life option, because an end of life option to end one's life is the only kind of option to end one's life that there is.
The bill' title sentence stipulates that in order to be allowed to kill oneself in a humane and dignified manner, one must be a "qualified patient." The word qualified is of course extremely vague. It could mean anything. No matter what it actually means, I don't want to have to "qualify" for anything to be able to kill myself as humanely as possible. Nor do I want to have to be a patient. And of course, I don't want to have to be diagnosed with a terminal disease either, as the law would require. I don't want to have to prove to someone else that I am qualified, according to their standards, to die, and then to have the right to kill myself humanely. It is my body, and it should be my choice. I don't want to have to prove to anyone that I have a terminal disease, or any disease at all, before I am allowed to kill myself "humanely.". That title sentence is not about giving me the right to die, it is about giving physicians and other licensed prescribers the right to determine whether I should have the right to die humanely. I want to make that determination. What the title of the bill says is just the opposite of giving me the right to die. Or rather, it is just the opposite of ending the prohibitions that are presently in place, that interfere with my right to die easy.
That is not to say that I should not be able to consult with a physician and get her opinion about whether I am should consider killing myself, or hang on a little longer, and how I might kill myself the most humanely, given her medical knowledge of how various drugs cause death, and how I might kill myself with the least discomfort. I should have the right to have that conversation with any physician. But the ultimate choice should be my own. I shouldn't have to convince them to write a prescription. Just stop making it hard for me to get the drugs. Legalize the drugs. Notice I didn't say de-criminalize, I said legalize.
I might add that by having a physician prescribe for me enough drugs for me to kill myself, knowing that I have been considering using them to kill myself, it means she can view what she has done as having intentionally contributed to my plan to kill myself, that she is partly responsible for killing me. She has colluded with me to kill myself. If instead she simply discussed the effects of the drugs with me, and how someone might use them to kill themselves, but did not prescribe them, and if I bought them from a merchant without telling the merchant what I intended to use them for, then, if I used them to kill myself, I alone would be responsible for killing me. My physician would not be burdened with an understanding that she colluded with me to kill myself. This is what I would prefer if I were a licensed prescriber, and this is what I would prefer to do; I would prefer not to do something that would burden someone who was trying to help me, with the understanding that she colluded with me to kill me. I would prefer to be the only person responsible for killing me.