In Word, or Sigh, or Tear: Depression and End of Life Choices
This paper considers the potential threat legalizing voluntary euthanasia (VE) and assisted suicide (AS) may have upon the autonomy and safety of those diagnosed with, or suspected of being affected by, a depressive disorder. The author explores the relationship between depressive disorder and end-of-life decisions in the context of depression as a qualifying condition for VE or AS, and in the context of depression as an excluding condition with regard to competent choices. Drawing on and developing themes touched on by Sheila McLean in 2007, the article also examines this issue against the backdrop of what some commentators see as an expanding definition of ‘depression’ that threatens to pathologise a range of thoughts and wishes common among terminally or chronically ill people. The author concludes that concern for vulnerable people is a valid and valuable perspective in any discussions around law reform, but care should be exercised lest it become a guise for illiberal paternalism.
Editor: Laurie, G; Ferguson, P
Keywords: Euthanasia; Assisted suicide; Biology law; Bioethics; Health law
Research Type: Chapter in Book