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Abstract

In this chapter, I discuss the parallels drawn between abortion and assisted suicide. There is a widespread presumption that a liberal take on abortion implies support for a change in the law on assisted suicide. Both sides of the discussion on assisted suicide promote this perception. There are, in truth, similarities but there are also profound differences between abortion and assisted suicide. Both suicide and abortion are essentially private matters involving individual choice. However, the question at hand is whether or not to assist the woman seeking an abortion or the person seeking an early death. I argue that society has an interest in assisting women, through providing medical abortions, in order that women are able to play an equal role to men in society. There is no composite societal interest in providing assisted suicides; nor are they necessary.

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  1. www.pewforum.org/Abortion/Religious-Groups-Official-Positions-on-Abortion.aspx. Steven D. Aguzzi, ‘Suffering Redeemed: A Reformed Argument Against Physician Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia’, Theology Matters, vol. 17, no. 2 (March/April 2011), pp. 1–9.

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  4. For an argument for legalizing assisted suicide that leaned heavily on Planned Parenthood v. Casey, see Holley L. Claibom, ‘Assisted Suicide Falls Within Liberty Interests Protected By the Fourteenth Amendment’, Syracuse Journal of Legislation and Policy, vol. 162 (1995), pp. 162–168.

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  9. Szasz perspicaciously notes that with increasing momentum, the American people and the American government embrace the principle that certain acts prohibited ought to be permitted if prescribed by physicians. Whereas US law prohibits marijuana use, California state law permits it for medical use. Getting around moral objections to drug use, campaigners now claim medical reasons for their drug use. Szasz’s point — no doubt conect — is that people tend to cite medical authority to take actions that in the past were simply thought of as bad or immoral. Just as excess promiscuity is less a disease than a moral failing, neither is dying a disease (though it may be precipitated by a disease). Thomas Szasz, Fatal Freedom: The Ethics and Politics of Suicide (New York: Syracuse University Press, 2002), p. 64.

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  10. Margaret P. Battin and Ryan Spellecy, ‘What Kind of Freedom? Szasz’s Misleading Perception of Physician-assisted Suicide’, in Jeffrey A. Schaler (ed.), Szasz Under Fire: The Psychiatric Abolitionist Faces His Critics. (Boston: Open Court, 2004), pp. 277–290

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  11. Brian V. Johnstone, ‘Early Abortion: Venial or Mortal Sin?’, Irish Theological Quarterly, vol. 70 (1985), p. 60.

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  12. Michael A. Cavanaugh, ‘Secularization and the Politics of Traditionalism: The Case of the Right-to-Life Movement’, Sociological Forum, vol. 1, no. 2 (1986), pp. 251–283

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© 2013 Kevin Yuill

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Yuill, K. (2013). For Abortion, Against Assisted Suicide. In: Assisted Suicide: The Liberal, Humanist Case Against Legalization. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137286307_6

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