To Be or Not to Be - by ‘Joseph Smith’ (hat-tip David Barrows)

I did not ask to be born into this world. Had I been asked I would have said no.
(Notwithstanding the fact that I have had what most people would consider to be a
good life). Too much pain, suffering and death.

Telephone ringing:
Hello, this is the Ministry of Health. How can I help you?

My name is Joe Smith (he/him), and I would like you to kill me.

Well, I would not put it exactly that way, but yes this is the medically assisted
death division.

Mr. Smith, could you please give me a little background detail?

My name is Joe Smith, and I am …

Thank you, Mr. Smith, what makes you eligible for medically assisted death.

I have stage 4 metastasized kidney cancer. The five-year survival rate is 8 percent.

Excellent, you qualify.

Now Mr. Smith, where would you like this procedure to take place? Your home,
the clinician's office, or the hospital?

I had not really thought of it. Probably the hospital would be best.

OK. Does your family doctor have hospital privileges?

No, I do not believe my doctor has hospital privileges.

Oh, do you have a specialist who has hospital privileges?

Yes, I have a cancer specialist at the hospital.

Excellent. Please provide me with the specialist’s contact information.

Mr. Smith, you realize that the procedure is covered by government insurance, but you are
responsible for the disposal of the body?

Well, I will not be able to do it personally of course, but I will arrange everything.

Excellent. When would you like this procedure to take place?

Oh, I had not given it much thought. I have just been diagnosed, so we will have to
wait to see what happens. Technology may catch up with this cancer and I will be

Well, we certainly hope that will be the case. We will put your material on file and
be ready to activate the procedure at your request.

We will be sending two physicians to visit you at your home to discuss the matter
with you.

You mean you have doctors who make house calls? No, my family knows nothing
about this, and I would prefer a Zoom conversation.

Excellent Mr. Smith,

Well, thank you very much.

My pleasure Mr. Smith and have a wonderful day.

Topics for Discussion
· Is suicide ethical under any circumstances?
· Do the circumstances in this case impact the ethical implications?
· Should the State be involved in this decision-making process?
· Should the State use taxpayer's money to perform this procedure?
· Should family members be involved in this decision-making process?
· Is this an example of heroism or cowardice?
· How did the philosophers of the past address this issue?
· How do religious people and atheists, respectively, address this issue?