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.


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


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