“And as I got a bit older and had more experience taking care of patients and families, and realizing autonomy was not really relevant to the human condition – We are all parts of families and parts of communities and critically dependent on one another in ways that notions of self-determination and autonomy pretend don’t exist …
Bob Butler, whose photo I showed you, said to me when I was writing stuff in favor of assisted suicide that there’s an old Chinese proverb that: “Suicide reverberates for seven generations.” The harm to families when someone decides to leave, rather than having to leave, is substantial and has been understudied.
What’s also very interesting is that the movement to legalize assisted suicide is overwhelmingly driven by the ‘worried well’ – by people who are so terrified of the loss of control that illness and death, dying and death bring – that there’s a sort of reaction formation: “Damn it, I’m gonna take control back” over something that’s so terrifying. But, for millions of years, humans have lived and died in their families. And it’s not that scary. It’s pretty natural, like birth.
And when you look at – “What do sick people want?” – Sick people almost always want to continue to live. And it took my experience with sick people who, if it were me, I’d say, “I want assisted suicide,” and they still want to live. Overwhelmingly, people want to live, in spite of conditions that the “worried well” would think are intolerable.”