Document Type


Publication Date



In essence, Williams' specific proposal is that death be authorized for a person in the above situation "by giving the medical practitioner a wide discretion and trusting to his good sense." This, I submit, raises too great a risk of abuse and mistake to warrant a change in the existing law. That a proposal entails risk of mistake is hardly a conclusive reason against it. But neither is it irrelevant. Under any euthanasia program the consequences of mistake, of course, are always fatal. As I shall endeavor to show, the incidence of mistake of one kind or another is likely to be quite appreciable. If this indeed be the case, unless the need for the authorized conduct is compelling enough to override it, I take it the risk of mistake is a conclusive reason against such authorization. I submit, too, that the possible radiations from the proposed legislation, e.g., involuntary euthanasia of idiots and imbeciles (the typical "mercy killings" reported by the press) and the emergence of the legal precedent that there are lives not "worth living," give additional cause to pause.