Assisted Suicide and the Catholic Church

News item: the California legislature has passed a bill loosening prohibition of assisted suicide. No word from the governor as to whether he’ll sign the bill. I expect he will. I certainly hope so.

I trust no one on this site favors drug prohibition. To be consistent, we must oppose restrictions on medicinal drugs (commonly called “ethical”), not just recreational drugs. As things stand, the government forcefully suppresses purchases of certain drugs. We in the U.S. are forbidden from buying any medicinal drug that is deemed to require FDA approval but has not yet gotten it. Approved drugs are available only if prescribed by a licensed physician. And of course some drugs are freely available over the counter.

Our opposition to drug prohibition is grounded in the most basic human right: control of our own bodies. As competent adults, our choice of what we ingest is nobody else’s business, period. It matters not whether we take drugs to counter illness, enjoy a high, or indeed, to end it all.

Of course, suicide is not something to take lightly. If someone close to us is contemplating suicide, we have an ethical duty to reach out to them and help them find alternatives, if they exist. But we have no right to use violence to restrain them, nor do government agents.

The Catholic Church is leading the opposition to this bill, and has shown its seamiest side in doing so. They are perfectly happy to see terminally ill people forced to endure agony. This is Exhibit A for Ayn Rand’s characterization of the Catholic Church as profoundly anti-life.

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2 thoughts on “Assisted Suicide and the Catholic Church

  1. Greatly written! Your piece reminds me of a passage of Nietzsche’s Twilight of the Idols that I would like to quote here:

    “Death should be chosen freely – death at the right time, faced clearly and joyfully and embraced while one is surrounded by one’s children and other witnesses. It should be affected in such a way that a proper farewell is still possible, that he who is about to take leave of us is still himself, and really capable not only of valuing what he has achieved and willed in life, but also of summing up the value of life itself.”

  2. Excellent post, thanks!

    The question this produced in my mind centered on other people in relation to somebody who chooses to die. A person has a right to assisted suicide, but at first I had to say that a physician also has a right to refuse service for assisted suicide, as that may violate her personal liberty. Of course, in a free market medical system, there would be options for people. Some physicians would no doubt offer the service of assisted suicide (with the belief that it is an ethically good thing to offer society), and some would refuse to do so.

    The big issue here, for me, isn’t so much assisted suicide (it shouldn’t be an issue at all…), but rather the current, heavily government-regulated state of US medical markets.

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