Cons - Arguments Against Death with Dignity and the Right to Die

The Cons - Reasons Detractors Do Not Believe in Legal Death with Dignity

Man holding his mother’s hands.
A man holding his mother’s hands in a hospital. Portra Images/Getty Images

What are the arguments against the legal right to die? There are few arguments about health and medical care that are as divisive as whether or not people should have the right to die when they choose, intentionally, by their own hand, to end their own perceived suffering and pain.

The arguments are ideological, based on many important aspects of civility: the law, religion or spiritual beliefs, ethics, and social mores.

Opinions vary based on personal experiences, belief systems, age, culture and other aspects of humankind that influence how we think about any important aspect of life.

You can find the list of pros – the arguments in favor the right to die and death with dignity in this linked article, and find more information about both pros and cons in the Resources section.

Cons for Right to Die Arguments

(When available, evidence or statistics that support or contradict the statement are found in parentheses.)

Con: The federal government is against the right to die even though some states have laws that say it's acceptable for physicians to assist and provide “aid in dying.”

Con: Aid in dying (physician-assisted suicide) violates the Hippocratic oath.

Con: Doctors make so many mistakes that the patient may not really be suffering, or could be cured, if instead he or she got a second opinion or different treatment.

Con: A patient’s pain and suffering can be relieved through palliative care.

Con: Choosing to take one’s own life demeans the value of human life.

Con: Many religions prohibit taking one’s own life, believing that it is against God’s (Allah’s or another deity’s) will.

Con: Allowing patients, by law, to choose death is a slippery slope; it will lead to abuse of the system and legalized murder.

Con: Pressure from insurance and other payers may result, meaning doctors will be forced to help patients die. This is another slippery slope argument.

Con: Taking one’s own life reduces the chances for miracles and possible recovery.

Con: Unethical doctors will help patients die for the wrong reasons.

Con: The elderly do not have the mental capacity to make such a choice, therefore it should not be allowed in anyone over a certain age. (There does not seem to be a claim of what that age should be.)

Con: Euthanasia has been legal in the Netherlands since 2002, and some experts say that this is the reason there is little palliative care available. Those who are against the right to die use this argument to say that if the right to die becomes prevalent in the United States, then palliative care will no longer be available.

Con: The cost of care should not enter into the right to die arguments. You cannot equate money with human life.

Con: Living wills are all that is needed to provide death with dignity.

People do not have to take their own lives because their death will be protected by legal paperwork.

Con: The right to die has a socio-economic dimension to it. If it is legalized, then disadvantaged people will choose an early death more frequently. (Statistics available in Oregon do not show this to be true.)

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