He won’t kill himself, but plans to refuse any medical treatment other than palliative care for pain or disability. He says that like death, “…living too long is also a loss. It renders many of us, if not disabled, then faltering and declining, a state that may not be worse than death but is nonetheless deprived.”
Psychotherapist Michael Hurd explains that Emanuel takes his position from “the oldest, most primitive creed of ethics in human history: Self-sacrifice….Like all self-conscious advocates of selflessness, he seems proud of his willingness to hurt his family by proclaiming his wish to die. ‘Hey, look at me. I’m so selfless I don’t even wish to live. It hurts my family, but that shows how willing I am to be sacrificial.’”
Hurd notes, “This is what passes as the standard of sophisticated, high-end, state-of-the-art ethics, at least among the sophisticates and elite whom we have given permission to run our lives.”
Of course, Emanuel leaves himself an out: “I retain the right to change my mind and offer a vigorous and reasoned defense of living as long as possible.”
So there you have it: Emanuel’s 57-year-old self making the sacrificial case for not wanting to live more than 18 more years, but admitting that his 75-year-old self might very well make a different choice. Who would have guessed?
Steve Buckstein is founder and Senior Policy Analyst at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.