Article by Tim Stanley
The second scenario is alluded to in the GPs letter. A woman is told her cancer is getting worse and she might have months to live. Her family are financially overstretched. They’ve never been very fond of her. They are told that they could make adjustments to their house at great expense to keep her at home or they could put her in social care, where they likely won’t visit. The patient is scared. She doesn’t want to be any problem for her family. When she tries to raise the subject they give answers that seem like placating: “Of course we love you. Of course we’ll look after you.” She concludes that she can’t trust her family or else she doesn’t want her last months to be spent living with guilt at having cost them money. So she chooses to die.
This scenario reminds us of something libertarians too often forget: people do not make choices in isolation. That’s not how real human beings work. Their decisions are shaped by their material circumstances and by the attitudes of those around them. Finally, they are shaped by culture.