Assisted Suicide Through the Prism of the Right to Life
Mendelson, D., & Bagaric, M., Assisted suicide through the prism of the right to life, International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, (2013)
13 Pages Posted: 15 Oct 2014
Date Written: October 14, 2014
Part of the reason for the ongoing confusion regarding the status of assisted suicide is the cluttered moral and legal matrix that is normally invoked to evaluate the practice. It results in a calculus that is impossible to coherently unravel, allowing commentators to tenably assert any position. The authors attempt to inject clarity into the debate by focusing on the issue through the lens of the most important interest at stake: the right to life. It is arguable that while there are well-established exceptions to the right to life, they only apply where the right to life is itself at stake (such as self-defence). There is no sound argument for suggesting that the circumstances underpinning suicide constitute another exception to the right to life. Thus, suicide and assisted suicide are unjustifiable. An analysis of the empirical data in jurisdictions where assisted suicide has been legalised suggests that legalisation leads to an increase in assisted suicides. The adverse indirect consequences of the often ostensibly compassionate act of assisted suicide outweigh any supposed benefits from the practice. It follows that assisted suicide should lead to criminal sanctions. At the same time, it is important to acknowledge that, paradoxically, the right to life arguments against assisted suicide mandate greater community measures to eliminate or reduce the causes of suicide.
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