The Right to Life (Last Chapter)

The Right to Life (Last Chapter)
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People are just living life to death. They are living it up, as it were. The health care system is tanking from keeping a relatively small percentage of the population alive, and the children of many of these lifers are finding their expendable incomes diminished by the expense of caring for a whole generation whose depleted assets no longer support their existence.

James Atlas dealt with this issue in a New York Times op-ed piece, "Life Goes On, and On..." So is euthanasia what the doctor ordered? Should actuarial decisions be made regarding the degree to which society should invest in an aging body? Is it possible to decide that there is no value in extending the life of someone who has outlived their use? Horses are shot when they go lame? We sell or junk the car when its repairs are so expensive that it makes more sense to buy a new one. We stop investing in the infrastructure of a house or building when we realize that we are throwing good money after bad.

But can a human being be treated in the same way? We are now having the equivalent of the abortion debate when it comes to the elderly, though virtually no one is suggesting the idea of abortion, of aborting the lives of those who are no longer capable of contributing to society. But what about the right to die? What about those who no longer wish to be kept alive by the latest advance in medical science? What about those who determine that their lives have become a burden to themselves and to those they love? Should we trust that the individual, plagued by massive subjectivity, is the best judge of his or her value to his or herself and others?

(This was originally posted to The Screaming Pope, Francis Levy's blog of rants and reactions to contemporary politics, art and culture.)

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