The Social Dynamics of Rational Suicide
The mainstream Catholic moral tradition has affirmed that certain sorts of actions can be prohibited because they harm society and the common welfare of all. Margaret Battin believes suicide should be allowed if it would eliminate social burdens. This chapter explains and critically examines the arguments that suicide is of benefit to society, and then presents arguments that suicide should not be socially or legally endorsed because it does serious social harm to society. Advocates of rational suicide argue that it should be legalized to allow competent people to end their lives when their suffering or loss of dignity become intolerable. Legalization of voluntary and assisted suicide would undermine the integrity of the common law principle that innocent human life should not be taken by private persons. Legalizing suicide would seriously compromise the doctor-patient healing covenant, which is unique and deserves special protection from the law.