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date: 30 March 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Disability rights (DR) advocates have consistently opposed the legalization of physician-assisted dying (PAD) on the grounds that it wrongly discriminates against the disabled. This chapter distinguishes three variants of this objection. The first and perhaps primary one, based on “soft paternalism,” claims that PAD should not be legalized for the sake of those who might choose it. The second alleges that the laws harm all disabled people by encouraging support for PAD as the cheaper alternative to providing the disabled more social support and protection from discrimination. The third alleges that legalized PAD harms all disabled people by expressing the denigrating message that their lives are less valuable than those of the able. The chapter finds that whatever the merits of the first two objections, DR advocates cannot consistently accept them while maintaining support for a legal right to reject unwanted treatment. It also finds grounds to doubt the cogency of the third objection.

Keywords: disability, assisted dying, discrimination, paternalism, autonomy

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