Some ethicists have argued that what will begin as a right of patients to request aid-in-dying from their physicians under specified conditions will soon become a duty. I would counter this by saying that autonomy works for both patients and physicians, and that physicians should never be required to provide such assistance, just as they are not now required to perform other surgical procedures they are morally opposed to, such as abortions.

Some ethicists have argued that what will begin as a right of patients to request aid-in-dying from their physicians under specified conditions will soon become a duty. I would counter this by saying that autonomy works for both patients and physicians, and that physicians should never be required to provide such assistance, just as they are not now required to perform other surgical procedures they are morally opposed to, such as abortions. The right to receive, and therefore to perform, abortions has not resulted in such a medical “duty.” Very few physicians currently perform abortions, and special clinics and family planning centers have had to be established to fill this need without, I should add, the strict controls and counseling requirements that Iā€™d recommend in cases of assisted death.