Daily Archives: September 26, 2009

Assisted suicide should be legal

While I completely disagree, I understand rationally and logically why so many people believe abortion should be illegal.

And while I completely disagree, I understand why the idea of euthanasia, or assisted suicide, freaks so many people out, and creates such strong reactions in people.

Who gets to say that another person’s life should end? Why do they get to decide that that person shouldn’t breathe anymore?

But ever since I heard about the concept of euthanasia many years ago, I’ve been in favor of its legality. Of course in this country, assisted suicide is illegal. Despite the best efforts of Dr. Jack Kevorkian in Michigan in the 1990s, you’re not allowed to end someone else’s life, unless you’re a physician in a hospital.

But I think the huge objection people have about assisted suicide is that it will be arbitrary and unnecessary, like there will be a whole slew of older folks just going around offing each other.

When I think of why I’m in favor of it, I think of suffering I’ve seen, older people who no longer are capable of taking care of themselves, or have unbelievably painful illnesses.

Should someone who’s suffering from the final stages of Alzheimer’s be forced to live out their final days without being aware of anyone or anything around them? What’s the sin of a loved one peacefully ending the life of someone suffering from ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease)?

I think the decision to end the life of a loved one is an unbelievably difficult one, but it’s one that loved ones should be allowed to make. It’s not murder, as some have called it. It’s the most humane thing to do in some cases.

I bring all this up because I was just reading a N.Y. Times story today about England appearing to slightly relax its laws about the issue.  While not quite making it legal, the story says that the country’s top prosecutor created a list of conditions under which his office would be unlikely to prosecute people who helped friends or relatives kill themselves.

Basically, the prosecutor is saying he’d look the other way under certain circumstances.

I’m not naive enough to think America is ready to pass any assisted suicide laws making it legal; Oregon is the only state that allows it right now.

But even if this is happening in England, it’s a step in the right direction.

abbie-hoffman-010308

**From the category of “Fascinating Fact I Learned Today,”  I was listening to an NPR podcast and they mentioned that Bud Collins was being inducted into the Brandeis University Hall of Fame this weekend; apparently he was the tennis coach there from 1959-63.

But that’s not what blew me away. It was this: One of his star players was Abbie Hoffman. Yep, the 60s radical, lunatic but biazarrely entertaining guy who led the Yippies and then was a fugitive from the law for more than 10 years.

What a bizarre couple that must’ve been, Abbie and Bud. If you’re as curious as I am, Bud wrote about Abbie in this 1979 Sports Illustrated article.