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Copyright (c) 1996 University of Florida Journal of Law & Public Policy
University of Florida Journal of Law & Public Policy

NOTE: Rational Euthanasia: Mortality, Morality and Assisted Suicide

Fall, 1996

8 U. Fla. J.L. & Pub. Pol'y 79


Charles R. Boning* **



When I was in my early twenties, a friend and I volunteered to drive a handicapped person to and from art therapy sessions. This person, formerly a vibrant young man on the verge of a professional career, had sustained severe brain damage in an automobile accident. As a result, he could not walk, he intermittently drooled, and his speech was unintelligible. Unfortunately, he was sufficiently self-aware to understand the permanency of his condition. He also knew of the overwhelming burden faced by his parents in caring for him. In light of these tragic circumstances, we offered to transport him to therapy on a weekly basis. Although it was apparent that continued therapy was futile, we felt we were contributing in some small way to his rehabilitation.

Our enthusiasm for the undertaking quickly faded. On numerous occasions, this person attempted to undo his seat belt and open the car door while the car was underway. His actions clearly illustrated his desire to take his life. Only repeated intervention by my friend and me prevented our charge from pitching himself from the moving vehicle. In retrospect, I often wonder whether we served his interests by restraining him. 1 Providing the instrumentality of his death, however, was far beyond the scope of the responsibilities we had accepted.

The situation just described deeply affected my view of assisted suicide. Many commentators, even those who support euthanasia, feel the practice should be limited to patients who are nearing death and suffering ...
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