Health and Life Expectations

From the perspective of development health is correlated with increased life expectancy, this is one of the measures that is used to gauge the overall health state of a nation.

David Jolly of the NY Times writes: “Push for the Right to Die Grows in the Netherlands” an article that highlights an organization, Right to Die-NL, that advocates for medically assisted euthanasia. Assisted suicide has been legal in the Netherlands since 2002, but may only be used for situations of  “hopeless and unbearable suffering”.

Right to Die-NL and another organization, Out of Free Will, are calling for the creation of law that would allow any Dutch citizen over the age of 70 to utilize assisted suicide. Out of Free Will’s response to the choice of 70:

The group admits the age of 70 was a somewhat arbitrary cut-off point. “Whether it should be 65 or 90 is a good question. We think that once someone has reached old age, he has proved his ability to live. He can then chose to leave this life in a procedural, medically-supervised manner

Should assisted suicide be considered medicine? If we are ethically “ok” with allowing the terminally ill to utilize euthanasia to end life on their own terms, are we equally “ok” allowing someone over the age of 70 to do so? The NY Times article does point to a need for an increased level of palliative care for the terminally ill. Has the developed world reached a plateau of life expectancy, where citizens over the age of 70 will now choose to end life of their own free will?

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