Overlooked Costs of Legalizing Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia

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Human beings are naturally inhibited with regard to intentionally ending their lives and those of innocent others; human beings naturally love their lives and those of others, and human beings naturally regard human lives as having inalienable worth that is not diminished by or lost by an individual’s circumstances or condition. What do all these natural human proclivities have in common? These natural proclivities are acknowledged, sanctioned, and protected as the basis and justification of homicide law. By so doing, homicide law has the effect of defending the natural right to liberty: I will refer to liberty and freedom as self-governance. Being what it is, homicide law grants everyone the right to privacy, that is, immunity from intrusions and restraints on their self-governance. As it now stands, anyone who obeys the laws, particularly homicide law, is free to be self-governing. I now move to consider what would happen to homicide law and what it provides for our inalienable rights to life and liberty when physician-assisted suicide (PAS) and euthanasia are legalized.

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Cite as: Arthur J. Dyck, “Overlooked Costs of Legalizing Assisted Suicide,” Ethics & Medicine 36, no. 2 (2020): 117–127.

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About the Author

Arthur J. Dyck, PhD
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Arthur J. Dyck, PhD, is Professor of Ethics Emeritus at the Harvard Divinity School and Mary B. Saltonstall Professor of Population Ethics Emeritus at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. He is the author of numerous books, including Life's Worth: The Case Against Assisted Suicide, Rethinking Rights and Responsibilities: The Moral Bonds of Community, When Killing is Wrong: Physician Assisted Suicide and the Courts, and On Human Care: An Introduction to Ethics. His latest book, Achieving Justice in the U.S. Heathcare System: Mercy is Sustainable, the Insatiable Thirst for Profit is Not was published in 2019.

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