Douthat’s victims

Eric got to Ross Douthat ahead of me, but I’ll duplicate his effort anyway just because Douthat’s piece irritated me so intensely.

He says

the moral case for assisted suicide depends much more on our respect for people’s own desire to die than on our sympathy for their devastating medical conditions.

I don’t think he demonstrates that, and I don’t think it does – I think it depends on both. For one thing, if people don’t have devastating medical conditions, then they don’t need assistance with suicide. Part of what people fear is losing the physical ability to exit; that’s where the “assisted” comes in.

Fortunately, the revolution Kevorkian envisioned hasn’t yet succeeded. Despite decades of agitation, only three states allow some form of physician-assisted suicide. The Supreme Court, in a unanimous 1997 decision, declined to invent a constitutional right to die. There is no American equivalent of the kind of suicide clinics that have sprung up in Switzerland, providing painless poisons to a steady flow of people from around the globe.

That’s the bit that makes me so angry. That smug gloating pleasure in the knowledge that people who are suffering and desperate to die cannot do so. That smug certainty that he knows best and that what he thinks he knows gets to trump what other people want for themselves.

Douthat is, of course, a theist.

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