Sunday, February 7, 2010

Suicide Tourism

What can you do if you want help committing suicide, but you live in a state (all but Oregon) or country where assisted suicide is illegal?  Travel to Switzerland:

From the start, Mr. Minelli [founder of Dignitas] has kicked up controversy for his willingness to help foreigners die. Most groups in Switzerland don't assist foreigners. Dignitas only helps foreigners. The number of foreigners Dignitas helps each year—132 in 2007, compared to 91 in 2003—has increasingly left the Swiss uncomfortable with the country's growing reputation for "suicide tourism." As of the end of last year, Dignitas had helped a total of 1,046 people to commit suicide.
I do not see a convincing reason for bans on assisted suicide.  Informed consent rules are reasonable, but that seems sufficient to me.


Mike Huben said...

"I do not see a convincing reason": ah, the classic argument from personal ignorance.

Combine assisted suicide with another libertarian favorite, selling organs, and we now have strong financial incentives for relatives to want and encourage suicides. Not to mention the financial incentives for insurance companies: maybe if they make sure the quality of life of a customer is not good, then suicide will save them a great deal of long-term costs.

Anonymous said...

Whoa, Mike. What happened to the concept of self ownership? And don't individuals make their own decisions regarding organ donations?

I don't think a well-informed people will willingly buy insurance from companies who have statistically shorter life-spans...yes the information has to be available, but I don't think something this blatant would go without notice.

Mike Huben said...

Self-ownership is yet another bogus libertarian idea. While we do have legal control of our bodies for many purposes for significant parts of our lives, it is not the libertarian idea of self-ownership. And for lots of good reasons. But the most obvious two are that (1) we are not competent for parts of our lives and (2) full liberal ownership of bodies means that they are alienable: ie. you can be sold into slavery. Or for parts.

Blatantly stupid private purchases are NORMAL in our society: we buy medical insurance from horrendously expensive and inefficient insurance companies rather than efficient universal government programs. You can't just assume away the problems, not when there are vast amounts of money to be made privately.

Ryan said...

Hey you forgot Washington!

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