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Is medical aid in dying discriminatory?
  1. Christopher A Riddle
  1. Correspondence to Dr Christopher A Riddle, Philosophy, 1600 Burrstone Rd., Utica, New York, USA; cariddlephd{at}

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In Discrimination Against the Dying, Philip Reed argues, among other things, that ‘right to die laws (euthanasia and assisted suicide) also exhibit terminalism when they restrict eligibility to the terminally ill’.1 Additionally, he suggests ‘the availability of the option of assisted death only for the terminally ill negatively influences the terminally ill who wish to live by causing them to doubt their choice’.1 I argue that on scrutiny, neither of these two points hold. First, we routinely limit a course of treatment to only those for whom we believe the treatment might provide a benefit. Typically, we do not think hastening death provides benefit when an individual is not experiencing a terminal illness. Thus, I conclude, either all treatments are discriminatory, or medical aid in dying is not. Second, I argue that permitting individuals to refuse or remove life sustaining care may very well cause individuals who planned to undergo treatment to doubt their choice, but nonetheless, we do not believe permitting individuals the right to refuse treatment more generally, constitutes a discriminatory practice against those requiring or desiring treatment. Thus, permitting some terminally ill individuals to end their lives with medical aid in dying does …

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  • Contributors I am the sole author.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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