Human Exceptionalism

Book Argues “Liberal” Case Against Assisted Suicide

I haven’t read Liberalism’s Troubled Search for Equality yet, but it looks as if it takes a good approach. Here’s the Amazon description:

In Liberalism’s Troubled Search for Equality, Robert P. Jones presents a penetrating examination of physician-assisted suicide that exposes unresolved tensions deep within liberal political theory. Jones asks why egalitarian liberal philosophers–most notably, Ronald Dworkin and John Rawls–support legalized physician-assisted suicide in direct opposition to groups of disadvantaged citizens they theoretically champion. Jones argues that egalitarian liberals ought to oppose physician-assisted suicide–at least until we find the political will to ensure access to health care for all. More broadly, Jones challenges progressives to find the heart of the liberal tradition not in allegedly neutral appeals to “choice” but in a renewed commitment to equality and social justice that welcomes public religious voices as allies.

Ever since I got involved in the assisted suicide debate in 1992–in which I first debated Jack Kevorkian’s attorney over California’s Proposition 161 that would have legalized euthanasia–and more fully in the fall of 1993 when I committed myself to advocating about the issue, I have argued that legalizing assisted suicide is anything but liberal. Indeed, traditional liberalism of the kind on which I cut my political teeth–the liberalism of Martin Luther King, Robert Kennedy, Ralph Nader–should oppose assisted suicide in that this brand of liberalism looks at “us,” rather than myopically at “me,” and is dedicated to protecting vulnerable populations. The disability rights movement–which is overwhelmingly liberal politically–gets it and has become the most effective opponents of euthanasia in the country.

So, while I can’t endorse the book because I have not read it, I applaud Jones for looking at the issue through the prism of political liberalism.