Five U.S. states either permit aid in dying or are poised to do so shortly. Several others are considering legislation and/or court judgments that may find in favor of it in various ways. Yet the ethical questions surrounding aid in dying run deep, as even its advocates must admit: Is the choice to hasten a terminally ill patient’s death ever an ethical one? If so, what legal safeguards may be necessary? How do proponents answer charges that aid in dying will result in elder abuse, the degradation of the value of life, and the risk of a slippery slope toward premeditated killing?
As with those of many other political persuasions, libertarians may be divided on this issue. Yet it remains important to us, as to all others. Serious questions about individual autonomy and self-ownership are involved here no matter which side is in the right.