Thomas Bowden on Assisted Suicide

Writing for the ARI MediaLink, Thomas Bowden has published an op-ed titled “Assisted Suicide: A Moral Right” that cuts to the heart of the assisted-suicide debate:

When religious conservatives like Ashcroft use secular laws to enforce their belief in God’s will, they threaten the central principle on which America was founded. The Declaration of Independence proclaimed, for the first time in the history of nations, that each person exists as an end in himself. This basic truth?which finds political expression in the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?means, in practical terms, that you need no one’s permission to live, and that no one may forcibly obstruct your efforts to achieve your own personal happiness.

But what if happiness becomes impossible to attain? What if a dread disease, or some other calamity, drains all joy from life, leaving only misery and suffering? The right to life includes and implies the right to commit suicide. To hold otherwise?to declare that society must give you permission to kill yourself?is to contradict the right to life at its root. If you have a duty to go on living, despite your better judgment, then your life does not belong to you, and you exist by permission, not by right.

For these reasons, each individual has the right to decide the hour of his death and to implement that solemn decision as best he can. The choice is his because the life is his. And if a doctor is willing to assist in the suicide, based on an objective assessment of his patient’s mental and physical state, and on objective evidence of his patient’s consent, the law should not stand in his way.

Read the full article.