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Social Theory and Practice

Volume 36, Issue 3, July 2010

Danny Scoccia
Pages 479-498
DOI: 10.5840/soctheorpract201036325

Physician-Assisted Suicide, Disability, and Paternalism

Some disability rights (DR) advocates oppose physician-assisted suicide (PAS) laws like Oregon’s on the grounds that they reflect ableist prejudice: how else can their limit on PAS eligibility to the terminally ill be explained? The paper answers this DR objection. It concedes that the limit in question cannot be defended on soft paternalist grounds, and offers a hard paternalist defense of it. The DR objection makes two mistakes: it overlooks the possibility of a hard paternalist defense of the limit, and it confuses terminal illness, which is at best one type of disability, with disability itself.

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