In recent years the proponents of assisted suicide has become increasingly vocal. They argue that those with terminal illnesses ought to have the ability to take their own life in order to "die with dignity." This argument sounds substantial, after all who wants to live with debilitating pain that in the end will only kill them? Who wants their mental faculties ripped from them? This though, is not the question. The true question is, what is death with dignity?
Dignity: "the state or quality of being worthy of honor or respect." Is someone who ends their own life because they do not wish to face what is ahead dignified? Why is someone who commits suicide to avoid life with disease any more dignified than someone who ends their life to avoid life with debt? In both cases neither had the courage to face the road ahead. In both cases neither acknowledge that there was anything that was worth living for.
Christian Philosopher G.K. Chesterton puts it this way; "Not only is suicide a sin, it is the sin. It is the ultimate and absolute evil, the refusal to take an interest in existence; the refusal to take the oath of loyalty to life. The man who kills a man, kills a man. The man who kills himself, kills all men; as far as he is concerned he wipes out the world....The thief is satisfied with diamonds, but the suicide is not, that is his crime. He cannot be bribed even by the blazing stones of the Celestial City. The thief compliments the things he steals, if not the owner of them. But the suicide insults everything on earth by not stealing it. He defiles every flower by refusing to live for its sake. There is not a tiny creature in the cosmos at whom his death is not a sneer. When a man hangs himself on a tree the leaves might fall off in anger and the birds fly away in fury for each has received a personal affront.
Of course there may be pathetic emotional excuses for the act. There often are for rape and there almost always are for dynamite. But if it comes to clear ideas and the intelligent meaning of things, then there is much more rational and philosophic truth in the burial at the cross roads and the stake driven through the body...There is a meaning in burying the suicide apart. The man's crime
is different from other crimes - for it makes even crimes impossible."
The argument applies to those who wish to commit suicide because of terminal illness just as well as it does to those who wish to kill themselves because of depression or any other reason. Suicide is the irrevocable declaration that there is nothing in the universe worth living for. Suicide declares that only when things are going well is life worth fighting for.
One may argue that Assisted Suicide allows people to cease being a burden on their family. That it cuts down the hospital bills and the other burdens that come naturally in caring for someone with a terminal illness. This argument claims that people money and the relieved stress of not having someone around is more valuable than the person themselves. If this is the case than humans are only valuable if they are contributing to society. The entire framework of the Declaration of Independence, which declares that all people are inherently valuable, is washed away if this is true. Once humans become a burden they are expendable. Thus we ought to legalize the murder of children by their parents - after all children are both a financial and emotional burden.