For the second year in a row, Florida’s state legislature has an “end of life options” — or “medical aid in dying” — bill before it.
SB 1642 / HB 561 would “allow” terminally ill patients, diagnosed as having less than six months to live, to “request” (and doctors to prescribe) medication to end their lives “peacefully” instead of waiting for the prognosis to run its course.
Although this partial and minimal accommodation of patients’ rights should pass with a veto-proof majority faster than the TV cameras pan to Taylor Swift when Travis Kelce scores a touchdown, it’s probably deader than its beneficiaries will be in, say, six months.
Since it’s unlikely to pass, and since nothing I write is likely to change that, I’d like to turn to a simpler question:
Why do we tolerate politicians claiming that our lives belong to them and that whether, when, and how those lives end should be their decision rather than ours?
Nature (and human nature) preclude, at least for the moment, the choice to live forever. Illness, accident, and crime cut lives short every day despite the perfectly normal desire to continue living.
But the desire to NOT continue living, for whatever reason, brings up a choice that rightfully belongs to all mentally competent adults. Entirely. Completely. Without exception.
I might not agree that you’re making a good choice, but it’s your choice to make. Not mine. Not the legislature’s. Not your doctor’s. Not even your loved ones’. Yours and yours alone.
Attempting to forbid that choice is evil in all cases, and especially evil when the victims of that prohibition are going to die shortly, know they are going to die shortly, and are likely in considerable pain and unable to do the things that make further life enjoyable while they await the inevitable.
While the Florida bill represents what one might call “a good start,” it’s flawed because it builds on the faulty and morally abhorrent idea that you are property, owned by the state, rather than a free individual who’s responsible for your own life and entitled to decide whether or not that life continues.
Instead of asking politicians to “allow” us to “request” limited control over such matters, we should ask ourselves why we “allow” those politicians to exercise such control over us in the first place.
And we should take back that control and that choice instead of begging for exceptions.
Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.