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the Assisted Suicide Page

"Help, I'm living and I can't drop dead!"

We should all have the right to die with dignity. So why not a right to get help? Assisted suicide is found throughout history, which doesn't, of course, prove that it's right. So how do we judge?

Consider the plight of Abimelech, the biblical king gravely wounded while attacking the walled city of Thebez; or of King Saul, defeated and facing capture by the Philistines on Mount Gilboa; or of the Queen of the Nile with her asp:

Lady of Thebez, I Abhor You

Abimelech! Who could subdue him?
A lady of Thebez, to undo him,
Dropped a stone on his head.
The dying king said,
"Kill me, men, lest they say, 'A girl slew him.' "

A Woman Breaks the Skull of Abimelech
James Tissot

King Saul Gave His All

King Saul met defeat as he warred,
Was wounded, and couldn't afford
To let the enemy nab him.
No subject would stab him,
So he had to fall on his sword.

The Death of Saul
Unknown illustrator

Bile on the Nile

Cleopatra was so down and bitter,
After Mark Antony quit her,
That with her last gasp
She said, "Kiss my asp,"
And died from a bite by the critter.

The Death of Cleopatra
Reginald Arthur

Consider, too, the case of the Greek philosopher Socrates, who chose to die, rather than compromise his principles, by lethal ingestion:

Down the Hatch

They gave Socrates hemlock to drink
For teaching Greek youth how to think.
They told him, "Recant,"
But he answered, "I shan't,"
And drank it. Now go to this link.

The Death of Socrates
Jacques-Louis David

All limericks aside . . .

Cleopatra was not just depressed. After Antony died in her arms, she was a captive of Rome and faced possible execution. Few of us face such predicaments. Also, few of us attack towns like Thebez and get stoned by the defenders.

In any case, ASP: The Assisted Suicide Page endorses the position that there should be a legal right to physician-assisted suicide, for terminally ill, mentally competent adults. (Cleopatra, Saul, and Socrates--none terminally ill--wouldn't qualify. Abimelech? With that crushed skull, he may not have been thinking too clearly. Abimelech needed what everyone needs today: a living will or advance directive.)

In addition to the above link (to Compassion and Choices), see, Advance Directives, and Advance Medical Directives for more information.

Copyright 1998, 2007 by Ronald L. Ecker

hobrad at outlook dot com

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