Whose Body Is It

Published on Dissident Voice, by Kim Petersen … this three-part series examines colloquially the question of whether we have, and should have, dominion over our own bodies:

  • Part 1 of 3, Sex for Sale: Feb 17, 2014: … forms of entrepreneurship when it comes to sexuality and commerce …;
  • Part 2 of 3, The High Ground: Feb 18, 2014: … focuses on the issue of whether the government has the right to determine what citizens may consume, specifically drugs …;
  • Part 3 of 3, To Live or Not to Live, Feb 20, 2014: … on the controversial topic of the right to end one’s life …;  

… People will assert that they have sovereignty over their corporeal selves. Right-wingers should have few qualms with such as a notion, as it is in line with their ideal of “rugged individualism” – that government should butt out and allow individuals to pursue their own fates. Nonetheless, there are clear instances when right-wing religious fundamentalism will clash with right-wing political ideology; for example, proclaiming the right to legislate against forms of entrepreneurship when it comes to sexuality and commerce. Right-wing governments (are there any other kinds in most western states?) will assume the right to declare illegal the ingestion of certain substances, and government will intrude into the sphere of individual end-of-life decisions … //

excerpt part 3 of 3: To Live or Not to Live:

… Because of their special relationship, Peter had asked Melinda that when the time came and he was no longer mentally there that he be allowed to depart peacefully. Peter had always been cerebral. He had learned all he could, and he had shared his knowledge with all who were interested. He was a college professor of psychology, so imparting knowledge and encouraging curiosity, rational inquiry, and problem solving had been his livelihood. He had been blessed.

“Don’t let me become an empty skeleton that requires constant care of others, especially you,” Peter had implored. “You know in many ancient cultures, when the time came that a person became a burden to the social group, they remained behind to await the end. I don’t want to be a burden.”

“But you wouldn’t be a burden. You could never be a burden to me,” countered Melinda.

Peter knew she believed that, but he also knew that when he might no longer recognize her, when he was incapable of toiletry, when he was completely dependent that she might regret taking responsibility for his care. This he could not accept for himself or for Melinda.

“Burden or not, what would my quality of life be? Having you in my life would make it rich, but it wouldn’t be the same. If it is up to me, then I don’t want to go out with a whimper.”

“Melinda, we both agreed that a person has a right to decide for himself when the pain or incapacity for life becomes more of a negative than a positive, then a person has the right to arrive at an informed decision on whether to continue or end life.”

“But you don’t suffer pain.”

“It is not just a matter of pain, I also said an ‘incapacity for life,’ where the quality of life is abysmally low.”

“What about anti-prion trials?”

“It is just that a trial, and while I would consider it, the truth is that I am beyond being accepted for such a trial. Look, I have given careful consideration to what my decision means, not just for myself, but for those who know me.”

Melinda didn’t want to concede anything about Peter departing the world, but in her heart, she knew he was right.

“I’m 60,” said Peter.” I’m not old, but I have lived 60 years. I have loved. I have experienced. It has been a good life. I’d like it to be longer, but not as a dependent shell of who I was. Don’t I have that right? Is it not my body and my life to decide as I choose? What right does the state have over the bodies of its citizens?”

After all, the major entity that truly stood in the way of Peter’s decision to go out on his own terms was the state … //

… (full text of part 3 of 3).

(Kim Petersen is co-editor of Dissident Voice. He can be reached here. Read other articles by Kim).


Montana Boy: Bones Show Ancestral Links to Europe, on Spiegel Online International, by Rex Dalton, February 20, 2014: Despite general resistence, representatives of tribes in the US recently gave their blessing for DNA analysis of the remains of a Stone Age child. Research conducted on the boy’s genes indicate that Native Americans have European roots …;

The Swiss Virus: Europe Gripped by Immigration Worries, on Spiegel Online International, by Spiegel Staff, February 17, 2014
(Photo Gallery): The Swiss aren’t the only ones in Europe deeply concerned about immigration. Many across the Continent would also like to see limits placed on newcomers from elsewhere in the EU. Europe must remain firm, but right-wing populists stand to benefit …;

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