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Debate: A right to die?

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Do people have a right to die and even to commit suicide?

Background and context

This debate surrounds whether individuals have a right to die, or a right to commit suicide. This debate is most relevant to the right of individuals to decide at the end of their lives that they would like to die, either by being deprived of treatment or by assisted suicide.

Right to suicide: Do individuals have a right to commit suicide?


  • People are free to commit suicide as it only harms them. As a general principle, individuals should be free to commit any act that only affects themselves, does not directly harm other citizens, and that does not damage to their surrounding environment. Suicide is one of those acts. In so far as it harms only the individual involved, the state should not intervene or make illegal.


  • Suicide violates the value society places on life. There are certain things that society must value as inviolable. The dignity of life is one of those things. Outlawing suicide helps upholds this general idea of the dignity of life. Without such an expression of dignity, individuals would devalue life, and murder - among other things - would likely become more prevalent.

Death with dignity: Is prescribing lethal drugs to terminal patients justifiable?


  • Die with dignity, abandon the word euthanasia "The right to die-Essay". Ronald Sokol,Wednesday, March 21, 2007:"Every person shall have the right to die with dignity; this right shall include the right to choose the time of one's death and to receive medical and pharmaceutical assistance to die painlessly. No physician, nurse or pharmacist shall be held criminally or civilly liable for assisting a person in the free exercise of this right. Within the next half century, perhaps much sooner, the right to choose to die with dignity will be as widely recognized as the right to free speech or to exercise one's religion.It will cease to be called euthanasia or mercy killing. It will not be viewed as killing, but as a fundamental human right as expressed in the imaginary constitutional amendment above."


  • Prescribing lethal drugs is violation of the doctor's healing role "Assisted suicide".By: Susan Jacoby;Source: AARP Bulletin;2005-11-10:"Doctors themselves are divided on the issue. The American Medical Association, which represents about a third of the nation's physicians, strongly opposes assisted dying. Kenneth R. Stevens Jr., M.D., a radiation oncologist in Portland, Ore., and vice president of the Physicians for Compassionate Care Education Foundation, agrees with the AMA and regards assisted suicide as a violation of the doctor's healing role. "I did not become a doctor to write a prescription to end a patient's life," he says.Stevens notes that in research reports doctors describe their patients who seek assisted death as "controlling," an attribute he says harms society as a whole. "If a person needs money," he says, "we don't say it's all right for them to go and rob a bank."

Is denial to grant right to die a power game?


  • Right to die annoys power-freaks "The right to die debate". Woody Cavenaugh,January 18, 2006 :"I always found it funny that people have a lot less trouble with killing someone, than letting someone kill themselves. Most states allow capital punishment, but to my knowledge only one or two allow assisted suicide, and only Oregon has a law allowing it outright.I believe it probably comes down to power. People want power over other people, governments want power over people, people and governments ultimately don't like it when other strange people can choose for themselves. I can do whatever I want, paint my house pink with green polka-dots for instance, but if YOU do it, I'm going homeowners association all over your weird butt."


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