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Killing on Request
Hot Abercrombie Chick on the "Gentleman Cannibal"

Some on one of my comments sections thought that it would be amusing for me to write something about this story. I agreed:)

The issue I'll focus on is the practice of "killing on request," and the question of whether or not it ought to be a punishable crime to kill a person when that person has requested you to do so. When people talk about "killing on request," the practice generally carried different connotations than "euthanasia" or "assisted suicide" does. By the latter practices, we usually mean a doctor helping a terminally ill patient to end his or her life, sometimes when that person might not be able to do so effectively herself. Killing on request, however, covers any situation in which a person might ask another to kill her. But apart from the connotations, I think I can rightly say that the "killing on request" category includes euthanasia/assisted suicide--at the base level, both situations involve a request for another person to end one's life.

Though I am sure this will be an unpopular position, I am going to argue that, in principle, there is nothing about "killing on request" in itself that would mandate its being criminal. I do hold, however, that it would only be permissible in situations where the person asking to be killed would be considered as having the capacity to enter into a contractual agreement--being of age, sane, not intoxicated, and the like. The question of sanity would of course be an issue, and I believe that in the case of the "Gentleman Cannibal," the man who was killed was indeed of questionable sanity. But, if the person could be proven to fulfill capacity requirements and also furnished proof of their request (a formal government "please allow ___ to kill me" form, perhaps?), the practice should be legal.

Why? Distasteful and contrary to many commonly held social values as it may be, I feel that we ought to defer to the will of the individual and allow each person to make decisions about what to do or what to have done to their bodies, even if that leads us up to such extreme practices as "killing on request." I'm not going to make any arguments about what procedures would be necessary to prevent the legality of this practice from leading to unrequested killings under the guise of requested killing, but one can imagine how strict enough necessary legal preparations for such a killing could prevent the problem.

Would anyone actually qualify as having the capacity to request for someone to kill them since that entails their being sane? Maybe, and maybe not. In practice, I would guess that most people who would sincerely make such a request would not qualify as sane. But in theory it is possible that a sane person might wish to end his or her own life (especially if we get into the area of euthanasia or assisted suicide), and I believe that it should not be criminal to oblige them. In the end, it is a question of how much freedom you are willing to grant individuals with regard to what they do with their own bodies, as long as that activity does not unlawfully harm others. It does complicate the issue when another person is involved, but I would take such a request as a specific granting of rights involving an act done to a person's body to another individual, and hold that such a granting of rights is within an individual's authority as long as they meet the previously mentioned criteria.

What do YOU think?
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