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Tag Archives: euthanasia

Special Articles: Euthanasia Debate

M. Chasen , MBChB MPhil (Pall Med) 

To be, or not to be, that is the question: Whether ’tis Nobler in the mind to suffer The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune, Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles, And by opposing end them—Shakespeare, Hamlet [First Folio]


In the November 2010 issue of Current Oncology, an editorial by Dr. David Benatar appeared, titled “Should there be a legal right to die?” In his editorial, Dr. Benatar concluded that “it is an indecent imposition on people—an unconscionable violation of their liberty—to force them to endure a life that they have reasonably judged to be unacceptable. Accordingly, it is incumbent on liberty-respecting states to allow assisted suicide or euthanasia for those whose lives have become a burden to themselves.” Thereafter, a letter was received from a reader who insisted that a counterargument should be presented to balance the opinion expressed by Dr. Benatar.

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Should There Be a Legal Right to Die?


Photo Credit: Stock.Xchnge

by Dr. David Benatar

Just as people value having control over where they live, what occupation they have, whom they marry, and whether to have children, so people value having control over whether or not they continue living when the quality of their lives deteriorates. This is why the right to life and the right to die are not two rights, but two aspects or descriptions of the same right. The right to life is the right to decide whether or not one will continue living. The right to die is the right to decide whether or not one will die (when one could continue living). If a right to life were only a right to decide to continue living, and did not also include a right to decide not to continue living, then it would be a duty to live rather than a right to life.  The idea that we have a duty to continue living, irrespective of how bad our lives become, is an implausible one indeed.

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