You can now read 5 articles in a month for free on Read as much as you want anywhere and anytime for just 99¢.


Our lives are not ours to destroy

This letter is addressed to those whose years or condition have brought, in Wordsworth’s words, “the philosophic mind.” The argument for physician-assisted suicide rests on the tenuous presupposition that our life belongs to us, that we may request that this life be terminated in times of distress.

The premise for this argument is erroneous. We did not generate our life. In mystery our life began, in mystery it has developed, and in mystery it will terminate. At no point along this continuum do we possess untrammeled ownership of “our” life.

Continue reading below

We may claim to possess the presence of a will enabling us to choose ways in which we use this life on loan. But we cannot request to have destroyed that which has never really belonged to us.

Anthony Butler


Loading comments...
Want each day's news headlines delivered fresh to your
inbox every morning? Just connect with us
in one of the following ways:
Please enter a valid email will never post anything without asking.
Privacy Policy
Subscriber Log In

You have reached the limit of 5 free articles in a month

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week
Marketing image of
Marketing image of