Assisted Suicide for non-terminal Cases?

24Oct08

While traditional moral arguments about euthanasia tend to focus on cases where the condition of the individual is terminal, the recent case of a 23 year old British man commiting suicide in a Swiss euthanasia clinic, after being left paralysed from the neck down from a sporting injury, raises a number of moral and legal questions. Is there any moral difference between euthanasia for the terminally ill and those with non-terminal conditions?  With ‘Dignitas’, the centre for assisted dying in Zurich, reporting 100 Britons having travelled there to make use of the Swiss laws, the legal question of what constitutes “assistance” in such cases is also of significance. Should friends and family who accompany those travelling to Switzerland for the purposes of commiting suicide be seen as having ‘assisted’ in that suicide and therefore breaking UK law? Or do you you agree with the group ‘Dignity and Dying’ which campaigns for a law to allow terminally ill and mentally competent patients to choose assisted death in the UK?

How would Hume respond? And what would Kant have to say about the implied relationship between ‘dignity’ and these various forms of euthanasia (as suggested in the names of the two associations mentioned)?

Here is the related article http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2008/oct/17/law-switzerland

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