The Economist reiterates the call for the Right to Die

An important global journal makes the case for MAID anew

Following its 2015 cover story, The Economist reiterated its call for the Right to Die on November 13, 2021.  The Economist is a globally respected weekly which has been publishing since 1843, probably one of the longest continuously published periodicals and one commonly cited by decision-makers. It measures its views with considerable restraint, bolstered by solid inquiry and impeccable journalistic research.  It can hardly be considered a left-leaning rag; rather it trends “liberal” in the European sense of trying to minimize government intrusion into the marketplace which interrupts free choice.

The article makes the case that assisted dying has broad popular support whether in the form of euthanasia or MAID.  It also points out the obvious:  30 years ago, assisted dying was illegal everywhere except Switzerland. Today it is legal in 11 US jurisdictions, and in at least 8 other countries.  As the Economist notes “assisted dying is helping to change the culture of death.  People are talking about it more… Death is becoming an event to be scheduled, controlled, reached via a byway past ageing or suffering.”

A worldwide movement… growing in strength
Rarely used: less than 250 persons used MAID in Oregon in 2020 representing 0.5% of total deaths

It is not just that the movement is growing across the world, it is that it is the right thing to do. Dying has for centuries been wrapped in a fog of denial, obfuscation, medicalization and suffering. People have been forced to die a death they did not want. Those who rebelled by asserting their right to end life on their terms were often forced to improvise with guns and nooses and leaps into frigid waters. The advent of hospice created a culture of palliation. The advent of euthanasia and MAID provided an abbreviation of the inevitable. The Economist is quick to note that the myriad safeguards in the legislation have prevented any of the much anticipated perils trumpeted by the laws’ opponents. One thing is overwhelmingly clear: popular support for euthanasia and MAID is overwhelming in country after country. Summed up neatly, the Economist writes: “Proponents are using pubic consultations and petitions to demonstrate public support. And growing evidence from countries with assisted-dying laws has assuaged fears it will become easy to ‘kill granny”.

There is one fortuitous change in the Economist‘s support of this movement. In its June 2015 cover story: “The right to die: Why assisted suicide should be legal”, the magazine uses the now disfavored and inaccurate term “assisted suicide”. Its Nov 2021 article consistently embraces the far more accurate term “assisted dying.” Changing the emotive narrative of a misleading nomenclature is a not trivial step forward.