The XX Factor

Assisted Suicide Is Not Just a Medical Issue

What’s amazing to me about this double assisted suicide story is that it’s never come up before. Assisted suicide, (like medical marijuana and abortion and a whole host of complicated moral dilemmas you allude to, Kerry ) feels safe if we talk about it in purely “medical” terms. Cancer patient. The life of the mother. Terminal Illness. But we all understand that these decisions are made also, if not mostly, for complicated emotional reasons. Nina, your friends read the Ovid story at their wedding because death and marriage are ceremonially linked (Until death do us part). Think of Sati, the old Hindu practice of burning widows on the funeral pyre. A song running through my head is the old American Ballad ” Barbara Allen ” which Sean Wilentz wrote about in Rose & The Briar :

They buried her in the old churchyard
They buried him in the choir
And from his grave grew a red red rose
From her grave a green briar

They grew and grew to the steeple top
Till they could grow no higher
And there they twined in a true love’s knot
Red rose around green briar

Photograph by Getty Images.