Richard Doerflinger

10 October 2016

“Assisted Suicide: Pro-Choice or Anti-Life? ” Richard Doerflinger, who is the associate director of the office for Pro-Life activities of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, claims that assisting in euthanasia is conflicting with respect for life. He furthermore argues that not only assisting euthanasia is wrong, but by doing so, many other things may follow from its assistance, he calls it the “slippery slope” effects. Doerflinger thinks that drawing the line at being seriously sick, when accepting euthanasia, is very hard to do.

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He says that some people will argue that if a person wants to die, we should give them the respect and let them carry out their “ultimate exercise of self-determination”. This decision should be respected because it is a decision a person makes about their future. Doerflinger than explains a different view, in his article “Life versus Freedom”. He states that Life is the most essential right of humans, because without it we couldn’t pursue any other rights, like freedom for example. Now freedom is needed to practice happiness.

These three human rights, Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness are the most absolute rights proclaimed in the Declaration of Liberty. According to this view, deciding to end one’s life wouldn’t be the practice of freedom; it would actually contradict our freedom. Doerflinger than shows arguments against this view. One opposition would be that euthanasia is only obtainable if one cannot practice other freedoms due to illness. Doerflinger argues against that again by saying if a terminally ill person can make the decision of wanting to die, than they are obviously able to pursue freedom.

Next, Doerflinger argues about what he calls the “loose canon”. It is, if we accept to allow the killing of innocent people by allowing euthanasia, than that might relate to other social factors that should be protected. One of those social factors are the elderly and disabled. If we accept euthanasia, thus offering death, than the elderly and disabled people might start thinking that society has no interest in them being alive. Society might think that older people and disabled people, who might be a burden to some, are selfish if they decide to live. Another social factor would be a health care issue.

People are constantly trying to cut the cost for heath care, thus, people might not want to fund expensive care for extremely ill people, who might than have to choose death over life for financial reasons than. Another such social factor that could threaten life is the difficulty of defining the “terminal illness”. The legal and medical definition of it has been expanded already, but if we would become a country that legally accepts euthanasia, it might be expanded even more. The next one of the social factors is the one that Doerflinger calls the most “powerful driving force toward medical killing”.

It is the fact that humans love having power over others. Killing somebody, legal or not legal, would be the final implementation of that power. And as soon as people have done it once, they loose their taboos against it and might let their aggressions out on the legal killing of other people. Doerflinger concludes his article in saying that all these social factors taking into account together, make a strong argument against euthanasia. And as long as people cannot prove that the predictions of these factors are not valid, we should not legally allow assisted suicide

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