Doctor Man With Stethoscope In Hospital
Doctor Man With Stethoscope In Hospital
Humanize From Discovery Institute's Center on Human Exceptionalism

Disabled Man Commits Italy’s First Legal Assisted Suicide

Originally published at National Review

A seriously disabled man was allowed by an Italian court to commit assisted suicide. From the New York Times story:

For more than a year, media reports kept Italians up to date on the travails of a 44-year-old man known only as “Mario” as he sought to end his life through physician-assisted suicide. Paralyzed 12 years ago in a traffic accident, “Mario” faced a series of legal, bureaucratic and financial hurdles in his pursuit of death.

On Thursday, “Mario,” identified for the first time by his real name, Federico Carboni, ended his life, becoming Italy’s first legal assisted suicide, in his home in the central Italian port town of Senigallia.

What to make of this? Note that the patient who killed himself was not terminally ill, but paralyzed — illustrating the fact that assisted suicide isn’t about terminal illness. Rather, it is a philosophy that sees death as a proper and empowering response to suffering caused by serious disease, disability, mental illness, and the morbidities of old age.

This is why disability-rights organizations are so adamantly opposed to legalization. They see themselves — correctly in my view — as the primary targets of the movement. And indeed, we see in places such as Canada, people with disabilities choosing to be euthanized because they are denied the kind of services that would help them want to live.

The court ruling reflects how much of the West is fast becoming pro-some suicides, a policy that basically says that we should try to prevent suicides of the young and of veterans. But that people with serious illnesses or disabilities are better off having their suicides facilitated, a message repeatedly encouraged by laudatory stories in the media.

This is a terrible dereliction, even a failure of love. When we say that we will strive to save some from suicide — but not others — we are making a fundamental claim that the latter categories of people are not as important or valuable. If that devastating message of rejection isn’t a denial of equality, I don’t know what is.

Wesley J. Smith

Chair and Senior Fellow, Center on Human Exceptionalism
Wesley J. Smith is Chair and Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism. Wesley is a contributor to National Review and is the author of 14 books, in recent years focusing on human dignity, liberty, and equality. Wesley has been recognized as one of America’s premier public intellectuals on bioethics by National Journal and has been honored by the Human Life Foundation as a “Great Defender of Life” for his work against suicide and euthanasia. Wesley’s most recent book is Culture of Death: The Age of “Do Harm” Medicine, a warning about the dangers to patients of the modern bioethics movement.