The case for assisted suicide and euthanasia, at least as it has been presented, is that we may freely dispense with certain moral distinctions, once considered of some importance – between killing yourself and having someone else kill you; between refraining from prolonging life and deliberately ending it – while continuing to insist on any number of others.
The issue is thus invariably cast as if the practice would be reserved for adults of sound mind, in the final stages of a terminal illness, suffering unbearable physical pain, freely consenting to have done to them what they would surely choose to do themselves were they not so disabled. In its most complete form, the patient must not only consent, but actually initiate the process in some way (hence “assisted” suicide, versus euthanasia, where someone else does the deed). At all events we are assured the task would be performed by a licensed physician, no doubt with a sterilized needle. . . [Full text]