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Talking Americans down from the assisted-suicide ledge


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Several states are considering legislative measures to let physicians prescribe (but not administer) a lethal dose of a toxic drug to their patients, thereby assisting their patients to commit suicide. This is known as physician-assisted suicide. Advocates of this practice assure us that this can be a good choice for someone who is dying, or who wants to die.

If physician-assisted suicide really represents a "good choice," we need to ask: why should only physicians be able to participate? Why should only physicians be allowed to undermine public trust of their profession through these kinds of death-dealing activities?

Why not include police, for example? If a sick person expresses a wish to die, the police could be notified, and an officer would arrive bearing a suitable firearm. He would load it with bullets, cock the gun, and place it on the bedside stand of the sick patient. After giving instruction on the best way to angle the barrel, the officer would depart, and the patient could then pick the device up and shoot himself -- "police-assisted suicide."

Besides physician-assisted suicide and police-assisted suicide, "military-assisted suicide" could be offered as well. Members of the armed forces would bring in a standard-issue hand grenade upon request, explaining to the sick patient how to remove the pin properly and how to place the device so as to achieve the most rapid, painless and destructive death.

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