Suicide by Choice Is a Fantasy
Patients near end of life are surrounded by 'invisible coercion': Ben Mattlin
By Liam Carnahan, Newser Staff
Posted Nov 1, 2012 12:41 PM CDT
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(Newser) – A proposed law in Massachusetts to make assisted suicide legal has built-in rules to make sure patients aren't coerced into the decision, but journalist and author Ben Mattlin thinks the concept of coercion is murky, dangerous water, he writes in the New York Times. The subject is close to his heart—he was born with a degenerative muscular disease, and has shocked doctors by living for decades beyond his prognosis. But that experience has shown him "how thin and porous the border between coercion and free choice is, how easy it is for someone to inadvertently influence you to feel devalued and hopeless."

There are many forms of "invisible coercion," he says, like the "look of exhaustion in a loved one's eyes, or the way nurses and friends sigh in your presence while you're zoned out in a hospital bed." Doctors are worse, because they "feel entitled to render judgments and voice their opinions" about his life and prognosis, even if Mattlin is only visiting for a sinus infection. With so much negativity surrounding patients like him—despite his career, family, and aspirations—maybe assisted-suicide laws should wait until attitudes change. Click to read his full piece, or a counter argument here.

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Showing 3 of 24 comments
DougMasters
Nov 2, 2012 5:55 AM CDT
"There are many forms of "invisible coercion," he says, like the "look of exhaustion in a loved one's eyes, or the way nurses and friends sigh in your presence while you're zoned out in a hospital bed. If coercion requires intent ( which I don't believe but devil's advocate eh? ) Then if someone is generally tired or exhausted can't be any form of coercion. If coercion doesn't require intent ( which I believe ) and someone is sighing because they are genuinely exhuasted or tired then that coercion is only coercion if one lets it be. Can't blame someone for being exhausted or tired, at that point it's kind of on you. They can't really be responsible for how you feel about how tired they are. " Doctors are worse, because they "feel entitled to render judgments and voice their opinions"" I find Doctors to be annoying for a few reasons. Mostly due to my admittedly irrational dislike of hospitals But they do have a sense of entitlement with their opinions that annoys me... That being said I can't blame them, they did go to school for about an age and half and to ignore their prespective would be a giant mistake. I still can't stand it sometimes though.
bubbahotep
Nov 1, 2012 11:13 PM CDT
No, the law should not wait. It's overdue. Mattlin's reasons for postponing it are petty and subjective, and not even in the same league as someone suffering a debilitating and incurable illness.
TessTalks
Nov 1, 2012 9:59 PM CDT
It's a good thing suicide will be legal, because if Romney/Ryan wins the election, and they end Social Security, the new retirement plan for many will BE suicide.