Sunday, September 29, 2013

IIWK: Medical Bill of Rights

This is going to be one of my more controversial posts, so consider yourself forewarned. The contents of this post may not be suitable for all ages, though it does not contain explicit content.

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"What we have are taboos. ...What I object to are blanket bans on anything. ...Any drug that dulled the senses, or heightened them, or altered the consciousness in any way was viewed as sinful--except for the two most physically harmful drugs: alcohol and nicotine. ...No one had the right to determine what he put into his own body. They had no medical bill of rights..."
 - Valentine Michael Smith, from "Steel Beach" by John Varley

I'm a citizen of the United States, and I know full well that not all countries have such things as a "Bill of Rights" while still managing to be rather civilized, unlike some other folks around these here parts might think. I state that in order to offer some perspective to my international audience, of which I know there are a few.

To y'all local folks, you already know we have a thing called a "Bill of Rights" (or at least, I hope you do), and I'd be willing to bet the majority of you can name (at least in part) two of them. I don't really hold much hope for you remembering the rest (no offense, but you know it's true).

Those two being the first and the second, freedom of speech (with some limitations, which too many folks forget about) and the right to bear arms (also with limitations, which too many folks want to forget about), respectively. But the specifics of what is contained within the document is beside the point for this post; it's the general concept of such a thing, which is as follows:

There are things that the US government isn't allowed to take away from you as long as you are an upstanding citizen. Things that keep you from being upstanding range from not being a citizen or old enough to breaking laws of varying degrees of severity.

What I want is a medical bill of rights. As VM Smith stated above, a document that gives one the right to determine what [s]he put[s] into his[her] own body. I accept that, like the first amendment's limits at free speech, items on this medical bill of rights are due some exceptions.

  • The right to take drugs restricted by not infringing on other citizens' right to not take drugs, either first-hand, second-hand, or otherwise.
  • The right to suicide containing conditions that must be met, up to and possibly including counseling, financial dependency, and so on, as well as providing to those who contribute in assisted suicide for other, providing they can produce suitable and reasonably documentation proving it was assisted suicide and not murder.
Yes, you heard me. I said a right to suicide. I do believe that people should have the right to end their own lives, at least as long as there isn't someone who wholly depends on them for their financial well-being, within reason (there's a big difference between depending on them because they can't fend for themselves versus because they're lazy).

I recognize that this post does not contain the full exceptions that such a document would need, nor does it contain a full list of rights that such a document should need. The first is the sort of thing bureaucrats exist for, and the second is the sort of thing vast populations exist for. This post is simply intended to suggest and promote the general concept, and if I spent some more time thinking about it, or did any actual homework, research, and/or study, I could come up with more.

Instead, I'll let you, my audience, consider it, and if you have any additions, subtractions, compliments, complaints, conditions, suggestions, or questions, please add them below. If you have any spam, please abstain.

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