Essay: “Euthanasia and assisted dying: the illusion of autonomy”


Dr. Ole Hartling, physician of over 30 years, doctor of medical sciences at the University of Copenhagen, professor of health promotion at the University of Roskilde, and an author and co-author of several books and scientific articles, wrote an essay titled Euthanasia and assisted dying: the illusion of autonomy published in The BMJ on September 9, 2021.

He addresses autonomy in relation to self-determination.

An inherent problem of autonomy in connection with assisted dying is that a person who uses his or her presumed right to self-determination to choose death definitively precludes himself or herself from deciding or choosing anything. Where death is concerned, your right to self- determination can be exerted only by disposing of it for good.

Hartling also argues some critical circumstances that would arise if assisted suicide were legal: patients feeling obligated to choose death, the issue of internalized external pressure, the killing ban being extended past instances of war and self defense, doctors determining the value of patients lives, and how suicide becomes a solution for suffering.

“Autonomy is largely an illusion in the case of assisted dying. A patient overwhelmed by suffering may be more in need of compassion, care, and love than of a kind offer to help end his or her life.”


Read the essay here: https://www.bmj.com/content/374/bmj.n2135.full
Read more about this issue: Boston Globe: Legalizing assisted suicide would send a devastating message


Source: BMJ 2021;374:n2135
Published: 09 September 2021
Photo by Noah Silliman on Unsplash

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