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Doctor-Assisted Suicide: Death with Dignity or a Control on Rising Health Care Costs?

7 Pages Posted: 14 Dec 2009  

Mark Jarmuth

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: December 10, 2009


To protect the constitutional rights of those who can't kill themselves, laws legalizing assisted suicide, as in Washington and Oregon, must also permit euthanasia. Hence, doctors will be allowed to kill patients as well as assist suicides in these states, with heirs often acting as surrogate decision-makers for those who can't coherently express their desire to continue living or have a physician end their lives. Though the alleviation of suffering will be cited to justify these procedures, money and not the mitigation of pain will often be crucial in deciding who dies, and along with greedy heirs government will benefit financially. As with the killing of the unborn by terminating the pregnancies of welfare recipients, the vulnerable will be euthanized or coerced into choosing assisted suicide through the rationing of medical care to protect the bureaucracy from cost overruns and to preserve public resources. The article further points out how victims of this new role for doctors often will not be terminally ill, but instead be the most expensive to care for and will die to alleviate health care costs government is no longer willing to bear. The author explores these and other problems with the new laws and notes how the very ill, the elderly and the severely disabled will be especially susceptible to exploitation.

Keywords: assisted suicide, doctor assisted suicide, physician assisted suicide, assisted suicide and health care, euthanasia and the rationing of medical care, mercy killing, Jack Kevorkian, death with dignity, compassion in dying

JEL Classification: A12, A13, D61, D63, D73, I 12, I 18, K00,

Suggested Citation

Jarmuth, Mark, Doctor-Assisted Suicide: Death with Dignity or a Control on Rising Health Care Costs? (December 10, 2009). Available at SSRN: or

Mark Jarmuth (Contact Author)

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

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