Published September 19, 2008
Assisted suicide: immoral?
Stop me if you've heard this one: a reporter talks to a rabbi, a nun, a philosopher, a doctor, an ethicist, and a professor. Is assisted suicide immoral? he asks. And he hasn't figured out the answer yet.It's a true story. I've had some great conversations with people this week about a very difficult subject raised by I-1000. But this vote, like every other, comes down to the individual -- and the individual's responsibilty to society. Everybody seemed to understand both sides, that's for sure. Perhaps Charles Pailthorp, professor of philosophy at The Evergreen State College, summed up the arguments best."Issues of life and death often go together. If one takes the view that life, you might say, is in the hands of a higher being and human beings canít interfere Ö then the same line of thought would apply to dying. For those that take that view, that would be a consistent point of view and you really canít quarrel with them," he said."I take the view that it is oneís body, and you have to make choices about how one lives with oneís body. Ö And because I favor choice, I would favor choice about dying as well."Of course, personally supporting assisted suicide can be different than the decision to vote for an initiative that would make it legal. While each person must check their own conscience, voting on the initiative can change the larger public order, said Sister Sharon Park of the Washington State Catholic Conference. "This is about whether this is good law for a society. And if you have to vote, that's another action," she said. "Because the decision should not be my personal choice. Because law is to protect. And law is for the common good."