Chosing the time and manner of ones death

Melissa: What I am about to say I say with total seriousness. I believe that each person should have the right to choose the time and manner of their death. I think that physician assisted death should be legalized not simply for those who are mortally ill but also for those who have simply grown tired of life. Stop and consider the annual statistics on suicide. I have even read that as many as 300 physicians commit suicide each year using drugs which only physicians have access to and using the skill and knowledge which only a physician possesses. Every successful suicide by any person is a tragic loss of organs which might be used for transplants for people who have not tired of living. Every suicide effort which is a botched failure often results in a person who is now severely impaired. If there were a protocol for people to apply for physician assisted death and submit to examinations and counseling then doubtless many would be dissuaded from their desires while others would persist in their request to die. Those who persisted in their request would die with some measure of dignity rather than under a dark social stigma and they might even feel a kind of generosity in donating organs for the use of others. It is difficult to criminalize suicide because even as ancients like Cicero point out, every cliff and pond and tree provides us with an escape route from this existence. I believe there are 6 or seven suicides mentioned in the Bible and yet there is no explicit statement regarding the moral nature of the action.

Mr. Koenig asks a perfectly reasonable question asking what were the plans for the grandparents prior to these political changes. Obviously if someone has great wealth then they can pay out of pocket for whatever medications or treatments are necessary to prolong life. I was actually in the billing office of Columbia Presbyterian and saw a European take out a credit card and pay a $70,000 bill. For those of us who are poor then we have no “plans” except to hope for subsidized health care of some sort. The extremely wealthy do not have “plans” but rather simply pay for whatever is necessary. The extremely poor do not have “plans” but either hope for some socialized subsidy or else simply die of their illnesses. And there are some who for whatever reason wrongly or rightly choose the time and manner of their death by whatever means they find available.

I will add as an afterthought that I recently joined a group which discusses the writings of Ayn Rand. I do not think I shall ever be a great Ayn Rand fan in the sense of embracing all of her principles and guiding my life by them. But Rand was an impressive writer who made a lasting mark upon society and every generation of young people has about 250,000 who rediscover Rand’s writings. When I search for Rand’s thoughts on physician assisted death I find that she supports the notion. I also notice some Republican Tea Party enthusiasts who employ Rand’s Objectivist philosophy as part of their platform. I see physician assisted death as a perfectly Republican and conservative alternative to welfare cradle to grave health care systems. I also believe there are convicts who would chose physician assisted death by sodium barbitol over life in prison without parole.

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