After California, the biggest state in the US, legalized assisted suicide, and after a video by Brittany Maynard went viral on YouTube, you might think that candidates for the White House would have clear and crisp opinions on its ethics and feasibility.
But when Hillary Clinton was asked for her opinion in a New Hampshire town hall debate, she was stumped. “This is the first time I've been asked that question,” she told an 81-year-old man with colon cancer. Fumbling for words, she produced a few woolly platitudes. At least it is clear that she is opposed to involuntary euthanasia.
“We need to have a conversation in our country. There are states, as you know that are moving to open up the opportunity without criminal liability for people to make this decision, in consultation by their families, even, in some cases, with medical professionals.
But the issue is whether the medical professionals want to be involved or just be counselors. So it is a crucial issue that people deserve to understand from their own ethical, religious, faith-based perspective.
So here's how I think about it.
I want -- I want, as president, to try to catalyze that debate because I -- I believe you're right, this is going to become an issue more and more often. We are, on the good side, having many people live longer, but often, then, with very serious illnesses that they can be sustained on, but at some point, don't want to continue with the challenges that poses.
So I don't have any easy or glib answer for you.
I think I would want to really immerse myself in the -- the -- the ethical writings, the health writings, the scientific writings, the religious writings. I know some other countries, the Netherlands and others, have a quite open approach. I'd like to know what their experience has been.
Because we -- we have to be sure that nobody is coerced, nobody is under duress. And that is a difficult line to draw.
So I thank you -- I thank you so much for raising this really important absolutely critical question that we're all going to have to do some thinking about.
To be fair to Mrs Clinton, bioethical issues do not have top billing in the 2016 campaign. It will be interesting to see what the other candidates have to say.
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