Embracing suicide for the elderly would represent a radical departure from our founding values and a tragic step backward in the political progress for which so many have sacrificed their lives. A cultural shift from a "sanctity of life" to a "quality of life" ethic would not only impact the elderly, it would establish a sliding scale of human worth and dignity that would impact the feeble, the handicapped, and anyone else whose "quality of life" is deemed sub-par and their societal utility compromised. Furthermore, it is inevitable that the embrace of self-directed suicide would naturally flow to an embrace of assisted suicide, and from there, murder under the guise of "palliative care." This is already happening in places like the United Kingdom, where the elderly as well as newborn babies deemed unworthy of hospital resources are being sentenced to death by dehydration.
To be sure, Ms. Rubin believes that she is advancing an argument for human dignity with her push for a cultural embrace of suicide. But the frustration and suffering that often comes at the end of life must be weighed against the implications of undercutting the principle of mankind's exceptional value in the eyes of God. For once we have shifted from a sanctity of life ethic to a utilitarian view, there's little to keep society from embracing the notion that the elderly and unwanted have a duty to die and get out of the way and pursuing public policies that will hasten their demise.