We can't say one life is better than another
To the editor:
In the past couple of weeks, there have been at least one column and three letters to the editor that mentioned the issue of assisted suicide. Let's look at the issue of suicide in general from a different perspective.
Let's say you have an 18-year-old college student, a legal adult, who was just dumped by their significant other and is standing on the George Washington Bridge, about to jump off. How many people would say that the college student should be able to choose the time and method of death, and that we should all be happy that the college student's suffering was finally over? Probably very few.
But, of course, this is an unfair scenario, since we are talking about people who only have six months to live and are dying with dignity, right? They realize that, unlike the 18-year-old college student, their life is drawing to a close and it is only sensible to end their pain and accept the inevitable.
There are a couple of flaws in this argument, starting with the assumption that everyone who will have the option of assisted suicide only has six months to live. As Washington Post oped columnist Kathleen Parker pointed out, there are many cases where the doctor says that a patient only has six months to live but ends up living longer.
On the subject of dying with dignity, since when did six months become a magic amount of time? I know if I only had six months to live, I would want to enjoy every moment of it.
If everyone is inherently valuable, as most people claim to believe, then how is it a more rational decision for someone approaching the end of their life to kill themselves than it is for an 18-year-old college student, even if it is only six months? To say that it is more rational for one person to end their life than another is discrimination, and to protect one person from ending their life and not another is also discrimination.
Death with dignity is better termed death of dignity because when we protect one person from killing themselves and not another we are saying that one person's life is more worthy of protection than another. That is failing to uphold inherent human dignity and is intolerable in a moral society.
Gabriel Greenspan, Becket