The Myth of the Right to Die

State-endorsed euthanasia is a rejection of the duties we owe others and of the claims others have upon us. It is both a dangerous falsehood and a threat to the social and legal norms underpinning civil society, a myth that must be resisted by all who value human dignity

The phrase “dying with dignity” falls easily enough these days from the lips of many people in liberal democracies such as Australia. It’s a coded phrase, of course, referring to the idea that each of us should be entitled to decide exactly how and when we die—as if an unexpected death, or one that comes as a result of illness rather than our own volition, is by that very fact lacking in dignity. And you don’t even need to be terminally ill to decide it’s time to go; “dying with dignity” is almost being promoted as little more than a lifestyle choice. “The state should no more intrude on personal decisions at the close of life than at any point during it,” argued the Economist, mourning what it saw as an opportunity missed by the UK Parliament in September 2015 to reform the law on assisted suicide: “Governments everywhere should recognise that, just as life belongs to the individual, so should its end.”