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People and Politics Forum 13. 02. 2009

"Is it justified to commercialise assisted suicide?"

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More information:

Dealing In Death – The Curious Case of Roger Kusch

The Hamburg-based politician and lawyer Roger Kusch is a controversial figure. He developed a machine that enabled a number of elderly people to take their own lives – even though some were still in good shape for their age. He has charged over 8,000 euros for the use of the device. And that has caused outrage among politicians. They have tried to put an end to it, but so far, Kusch has prevailed in the courts. Ministers from Germany’s federal states are currently drafting a bill that would outlaw commercial assisted suicide. But Roger Kusch has vowed to go to the constitutional court to fight for the right to assisted suicide.

Our Question is:

"Is it justified to commercialise assisted suicide?"

Writing from Jordan, Amin Zoqurti says:

"What kind of world is this, when some people can make money out of assisted suicide?"

Folly Adadé André in Togo clearly states:

"No, one should not turn death into a business. Assisted suicide is murder and murder is contrary to the will of God. I think it’s immoral to end a person’s life prematurely."

A view shared by Herbert Fuchs in Finland:

"The whole thing sounds like a science fiction novel in which the perpetrators plan to get rich turning this into a lucrative business. The state, expecting its share of the pie in the form of tax revenue, will ‘financially bless’ the practice. What a horrible world that would be indeed! There are, of course, terribly ill people suffering unbearable pain who are locked in a tremendous battle against their ailments, day after day. Lack of oxygen, being unable to move one’s body and the kind of pain that can drive you crazy… It’s easy to understand why people would begin to give up –physically and mentally- and long to leave their earthly suffering behind them. But that does not release us from our holy duty to protect human life, no matter how unappealing that life may appear on the outside. As long as a person’s heart still beats, his life should be protected by our constitution. As one Greek friend put it: "God gives life; God takes it away." I concur with these words of wisdom."

Michael Stanek, from Brazil has a different view on the subject:

"People with incurable ailments should be given the opportunity to decide whether they would like suicide assistance or not. To require a fee for such services is a travesty. It would make much more sense to legally empower doctors to perform such a service so that they cannot be charged with a crime later. I believe that would be much more humane."

Hannelore Krause in Germany also advocates the freedom of choice:

"Man, as a living being, did not ask for the life that was given to him, but he does enjoy it, and he’ll hang on for ‘dear life’ to avoid a trip into the eternal abyss that follows death. On the other hand, when that life consists of agonizing pain with no hope of recovery, a person understandably favors death over life. Why should he be denied the right to rule out, in a living will, medical measures that would merely prolong his life. One might assert that this decision is one for medical professionals who are not driven by business concerns or profit. But the profit principle is being applied to just about everything these days. Human organs are being sold for a pretty penny and death as such is also a costly matter. And anyways, when faced with the prospect of wasting away physically, it’s up to the patient to decide if he wants to pay someone to help him end his life."

Gerhard Seeger of the Philippines says the decision shouldn’t be influenced by financials:

"Though it is understandable that the terminally ill, who feel helpless and often also suffer from severe pain, would rather die than live out an agonizing life, assisted suicide does not belong in the hands of private entities ... More able-bodied, older people receive this "help" as well. In my opinion, assisted suicide should be allowed in certain cases, but should only be undertaken by experienced doctors, and each individual case should be very thoroughly screened. Financial considerations should never influence this decision."

Karl Heinrich Pflumm, in the United States, championed the freedom of choice:

"I believe that the state has absolutely no right to regulate assisted suicide. Suicide, when it endangers no one else, is a personal decision. What person can make all decisions for us about what is ethical? Neither a religious leader nor a politician can do that ..."

René Junghans of Brazil has this to say:

"Assisted suicide for payment is, in my opinion, murder. I defend the right to life. God called on us to live and to live until our last breath, not to end our lives before our time. Suicide is cowardice, it is self-destruction – it goes against God’s will. When someone charges 8,000 Euro for suicide assistance, he isn’t just cold-blooded murder, he’s also a cold-blooded opportunist who finds a way to get rich unfairly at the expense of old, often dementia-plagued people. "One man‘s misery is another man’s happiness." If anyone becomes sick to the point that there’s really no medical options left on the table, then a doctor’s committee at the hospital housing the terminally-ill patient should decide when it’s the right moment to turn off medical devices keeping the person alive. This must always be done with the agreement of the sick person and his or her immediate family. That way, one avoids violating the wishes of the victim – there’s really no other way to put it than that. But to develop a machine that would assist people in committing suicide at home? That is the peak of heartlessness – downright cruel. People must help one another, not kill one another. As a Christian, I simply couldn’t think of it any other way."

The editorial staff of ‘People and Politics’ reserves the right to shorten letters received.