Depression in the context of disability and the “right to die”

Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 25 (3):171-198 (2004)

Abstract
Arguments in favor of legalized assisted suicide often center on issues of personal privacy and freedom of choice over one's body. Many disability advocates assert, however, that autonomy arguments neglect the complex sociopolitical determinants of despair for people with disabilities. Specifically, they argue that social approval of suicide for individuals with irreversible conditions is discriminatory and that relaxing restrictions on assisted suicide would jeopardize, not advance, the freedom of persons with disabilities to direct the lives they choose. This paper examines the idea promoted by some proponents of assisted suicide that it is reasonable to be depressed about one's diminished quality of life in cases of irreversible illness or disability and, therefore, such depression should not call into question the individual's competence to request assistance in dying. The concept of rational depression is defined and examined in the context of: four real-life cases involving individuals with disabilities who requested assistance in dying; a set of criteria commonly applied to decision-making to determine rationality; and research bearing on the emotional status of people with disabilities. It is concluded that although disability is associated with particular socially mediated stressors, there is no theoretical or empirical evidence to indicate that depression and its role in the right to die is dynamically different, more natural, or more reasonable for disabled people than for non-disabled people.
Keywords assisted dying  assisted suicide  competence  depression  disability  medical decision-making  quality of life  rational suicide  right to die
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1023/B:META.0000040058.24814.54
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 39,024
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Analytics

Added to PP index
2009-01-28

Total views
124 ( #54,633 of 2,319,691 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
13 ( #63,712 of 2,319,691 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads

My notes

Sign in to use this feature