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Notion of personal liberty is lost in debate over ‘death with dignity’

RE “END-OF-LIFE discussions, care should come before Question 2”: The Globe’s opposition to the “death with dignity” ballot question (Editorial, Nov. 2) reflects a rather odd political and philosophical phenomenon.

The culturally conservative right opposes the initiative because it seems to place in the hands of man decisions that should be left to God.

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The culturally liberal left opposes it because our health care systems should be sufficiently improved so as to take financial pressures out of the equation when a person with a terminal illness is weighing whether to go on.

It’s nice to see both ends of the political spectrum agreeing on something, even if for different reasons, in these divisive times.

But haven’t we all forgotten the right to personal liberty that John Stuart Mill called “self-regarding conduct” — conduct that hurts no one else in society?

Is the Globe really serious about believing that, for example, a pregnant woman should have the right to terminate a pregnancy, but that a terminally ill citizen in agony should not be allowed to call it quits? Is there no role for consistency in arriving at political positions on such profound personal decisions regarding control of one’s own body?

Harvey A. Silverglate


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