Assisted Suicide: Human Right or Homicide?

Individuals increasingly expect the right to be informed and make their own decisions about health care, including control over the timing of death. Close to 800,000 people commit suicide every year, nearly 80 percent in low- and middle-income nations, reports the World Health Organization. As a proportion of all deaths, physician-assisted suicide typically represents less than half percent, and the procedure is limited to a few, mostly wealthy jurisdictions: Belgium, Canada, Colombia, Finland, Germany, Japan, Luxembourg, Netherlands, South Korea, Switzerland and the US states of California, Colorado, Hawaii, Montana, Oregon, Vermont and Washington as well as Washington, DC. “Proponents argue that it is a basic human right to choose a timely and dignified death, especially for the terminally ill,” writes Joseph Chamie. “Opponents contend that medical assistance in committing suicide does not constitute a fundamental human right, and palliative care and hospice can relieve pain and suffering.” Patients are willing to travel for assistance with dying, and Chamie urges governments to confront rather than avoid the issue. – YaleGlobal