Doctor with Patient

A person with a terminal illness or the like has a moral right to decide whether to keep living or to take his own life to end his suffering. He properly makes such a decision with respect to the full scope of his knowledge and values. Of course, he may discuss the matter with loved ones or other people whose views he cares to take into consideration. But the choice is his. No one else morally may make that choice for him.

But many conservatives feel they have a right to impose their will on an individual facing such a choice—and to use government to enforce their will. Sometimes they invoke “God” to rationalize their assertions, claiming or implying that the individual’s life is “God’s” property (e.g., see my previous post). Sometimes they invoke other people or society, claiming or implying that the individual’s life belongs to others. Consider some examples of the latter.

Writing for the Heritage Foundation’s Daily Signal, Nadin Naumann argues on explicitly collectivist grounds against the individual’s right to take his own life, asking, “And how about the friends and family that are affected by their loved one’s diagnosis? Shouldn’t they get a say in this?” Obviously a person’s friends and family may “get a say” insofar as he wishes to take their views into consideration. But they have no moral right to forcibly interfere with his decision—and Naumann fails to draw that distinction.

Also writing for Daily Signal, Katrina Trinko seeks to undercut Brittany Maynard’s claim that she “died with dignity” in choosing to end her own life rather than wait to die from her aggressive brain tumor. . . .

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