Easy Deaths, Like Hard Cases, Make Bad Law
As a moral — and especially religious — matter, even the reporter’s flowery language about “a poignant coda to… an illustrious musical career” doesn’t persuade me of the decision made. But I will admit that, as a secular, civil matter, a strong case could be put forward for laws permitting this sort of thing:
He spent his life conducting world-renowned orchestras, but was almost blind and growing deaf — the music he loved increasingly out of reach. His wife of 54 years had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. So Edward and Joan Downes decided to die together.
Downes — Sir Edward since he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1991 — and his wife ended their lives last week at a Zurich clinic run by the assisted suicide group Dignitas. They drank a small amount of clear liquid and died hand-in-hand, their two adult children by their side. He was 85 and she was 74.
Unintended consequences, however, advise against legalization:
Peter Saunders, of the anti-euthanasia group Care Not Killing, argued that loosening the law could “put vulnerable people, many of whom already think they are a financial or emotional burden to relatives, carers and the state, under pressure to end their lives through a change in the law.”
The cultural shift could be enormous — from those whose life is a walking death to those who want to “do right” by their families to those who merely feel useless or unloved. Cultural and economic forces will inevitably push our culture further into a view of life as easy come, easy go.