Isn’t Assisted Suicide Illegal?

I am stunned. I have been reading a book by an author I really like. This is maybe the fifth of her books I’ve read. This one, like two others, is about her life of faith in Jesus.  I don’t agree with her about everything, but I like her honesty and humor and what appears to be a life re-arranged by God.

Last night I read a chapter where this author describes assisting in a friend’s suicide. The friend was dying of cancer. The author offers to help the friend end his life on his terms. She does so by purchasing the barbituates, grinding them up, and feeding them to her friend, who dies shortly thereafter.

I haven’t been able to stop thinking about this. I did some research online only to discover that this chapter had previously been published in a major newspaper as an op ed piece two years ago.

This author basically confesses to helping someone die and it does not appear that she was arrested. Isn’t this an illegal act? I mean, really illegal? In fact, the only consequence I could see was that someone cancelled one of her speaking engagements.

I’m not trying to land this person in jail (I even had a dream she accused me of doing so by writing this post), but even a very liberally-oriented friend asked if this woman had been arrested when I told her the story. I mean, Kevorkian was put in jail for this, right?

I understand that we — people in general and Christians in particular — don’t agree about everything. I can even get why people think such a death in such circumstances is ok.

But somehow it feels really wrong.

And I really thought this act broke the law. If so, why did nothing happen? Why no fuss?

I’m still feeling uncomfortable. Really uncomfortable. So I thought I would blog about it.  And see what you all say.


5 thoughts on “Isn’t Assisted Suicide Illegal?

  1. I think I know which author you’re writing about. She’s one of my favorites, too, although a lot of what she says is alien and puzzling to me. I think it’s good to stick with her, because I’m pretty confident she’s got real faith, and yet it’s so different from mine… makes me better able to question my own presuppositions and assumptions and all that.

    Kevorkian — maybe he got more attention because he’s a doctor — professional assisted suicide may be felt to be a completely different thing than amateur.

  2. Hiya, I tripped into your blog via ‘asbojesus’, and found a subject I feel strongly about, so sorry for butting in.

    I think the argument for A.Suicide rides on an assumption that we are individuals, and have the ultimate right to control our own life. To me this is a cruel myth, as everything we do sends ripples through our communities.

    having worked alongside someone with a profound level and complexity of disability, I witnessed her distress when a similar story broke the news, and have to say I can never endorse the wishes of a more advantaged and able person, despite their terminal illness, over the needs of those who are completely dependent on the good will of others for their every need. Seeing someone struggle with the impact of this discussion, showed me how selfish it is.

    the others I feel for are the family and friends left behind by such an act, often some people have been included in the discussion, and others left to be told.

    having said this, I respect someone’s wish not to be endlessly resuscitated, if they have no hope of a full recovery, or for pain relief that might hasten one’s end.

    will visit you in the hope of finding an easier topic, but thanks for the opportunity to chip in

    Longing: Thanks for stopping by and for your comments. This is by far my “heaviest” post. Enjoy the rest!

  3. Besides the the legal question, I’m having issue trying to comprehend living with one’s self knowing that you’ve helped someone “kill” them self.

    I can appreciate the argument for mercy, because the person was in pain & their quality of life was terrible etc; with me however, I just don’t believe that to play Kevorkian is a decision nor a responsibility left up to us.

    Longing: I am struggling with the same. And also can’t figure out why Kevorkian was sent to jail and this very public assitance received no comment, which suggests that many, many others assist in their friends’ suicides.

  4. Every human being is endowed with the fundamental right to exist, or to not exist if one so chooses. Organized religion and political systems determined that suicide is illegal, but that does not supersede the individual human right we all may embrace if we decide.

  5. it’s illegal (most places) in the same way homosexuality was, until recently. the laws are on the books but i’ve rarely heard of them being invoked.

    given the prevalent “culture of death” worldview in journalism, entertainment, and academia – i’d be surprised if anyone made much noise about such an event.

    Then why all the fuss about Kervorkian?

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