These sorts of questions come to my mind whenever I'm mulling over the issue of assisted suicide (and in those mercifully rare times that I contract something so fierce). In answer to the first question, I'm a weak-willed buddhist--all of life is suffering, but I don't want to grit my teeth and bear it--get me out of here! To the second question, though, I like to think I would, and no worse for the wear.
How about if it were to continue for a full year, though? It's not difficult for me to sympathize with those who'd like to dismount from the mortal coil rather than be racked continuously by it as the earth makes it all the way around the sun. Yet if the person in question was someone I cared deeply about, I'd be tempted to compel him to suffer through it even, if he had access to a legally sanctioned, painless, clinically administered suicide escape hatch.
As is the case with so many social issues, I'm a libertarian at a safe distance but more of a sanctity-of-lifer up close. Politically pro-choice, but forever disappointed in a close family member who had an abortion, that's my line of thinking--it's why I prefer sticking to the data over pontificating from a personal perspective.
Andrew Stuttaford isn't so demure. He celebrated a legislative victory for doctor-assisted suicide out of the northeast, curiously remarking:
Vermont may be a lefty sort of place, but occasionally it gets some things right.I say "curiously" because in the US--Stuttaford's home for the last couple of decades--euthanasia is primarily championed by the left, not the right. The GSS has queried respondents for even longer than Andrew has been on this side of the Atlantic on whether or not they feel a person who has an "incurable disease" has the right to commit suicide. The question is dichotomous, and for contemporary relevance, responses are from 2000 onward. By political orientation, the percentages of people who feel such a person should be able to end his life:
Since we're on the topic, feelings towards pulling the plug, by age range:
One might think that as the prospect of irreversible, painful decline went from theoretically occurring sometime in a young stripling's distant future to suffocating a senescent creature in his bed at the retirement home, the willingness to allow someone to die with dignity would increase. Sounds plausible, but it's not quite the case. Life was cheap in the old republic and it became even cheaper during the imperium. Parallels might be drawn. Shifting from contemporary to historical relevance, the percentages of respondents who expressed comfort with suicide, by year (in defiance of Hegel, images in blogger have become more, not less, buggy over time--click on the image if its bleeding over into the sidebar is driving you to distraction):
When I came into this place, it was still a minority position. No longer, for better or worse.
GSS variables used: AGE, POLVIEWS(1-2)(3-5)(6-7), YEAR, SUICIDE1