We can’t escape the social dimension of choosing how we die

Joshua Briscoe in The New Atlantis:

In April, the New York Times published a news article that was essentially an advertisement for physician-assisted suicide. “It’s less a question of uncontrollable physical pain,” the article explained. Rather, most patients who want doctors to help them end their lives feel they have lost autonomy, dignity, and quality of life, and are unable to “engage in what makes people’s lives meaningful.” And this type of “intractable” pain is “defined by patients, not doctors.” More state laws, so the reasoning goes, should come to allow these patients’ autonomous choice.

But what proponents of this view persistently fail to see is its double-edged nature. A patient’s choice to end her life is not “defined” by her, if by that we mean that it is a choice that is just about herself. Rather, it is a declaration about what kind of life is worth living. It is thus also a statement about other people’s lives, a statement to others about when their own lives are worth living or not.

More here.