One of the most difficult moral issues around is that of assisted suicide. A recent incident in Europe makes the issue of assisted suicide even more murky, if that is at all possible.

A woman that had no illness — other than a common case of arthritis — was assisted to kill herself because she was essentially just tired of living. Was this a legitimate action? Many would say it sets a dangerous precedent.

An 84-year-old British woman named Nan Maitland was assisted to her death by a suicide “clinic” in Switzerland despite that she had no real, physical illness marring her quality of life.

The so-called doctor that helped her kill herself has been in trouble with British authorities and is a zealous advocate of suicide. It is quite easy to assume that this doctor was pushing an agenda far more than assisting a patient to legitimately end her life.

According to the report Mrs. Maitland had arthritis but no other illness. She explained herself in a note to her family.

The mother-of-three left a note which said: ‘By the time you read this, with the help of the good Swiss, I will have gone to sleep.

‘For some time, my life has consisted of more pain than pleasure and over the next months and years the pain will be more and the pleasure less.

‘I have a great feeling of relief that I will have no further need to struggle through each day in dread of what further horrors may lie in wait.’

Is it legitimate to allow someone to kill himself just because he is tired of living? Is that a condition permanent enough to off oneself?

What about the arguments for and against?

Compassion often argues that it isn’t right to force people to live if their lives are filled with trial, pain, and no hope for recovery from illness. Those that advocate assisted suicide say that immanent and unavoidable death as a result of debilitating illness is no way to be forced to live. On the other hand those that argue for the preciousness of life say that no one should be given the choice to kill themselves regardless of how ill they are. God’s will is not to be subverted, some say.

There is a second line of argument against assisted suicide that is not based on theology, but still argues in favor of the sanctity of human life. That argument basically holds that human life is too precious and fragile (fragile against encroachment of overt government power) to allow people to arbitrarily decide who should live and who should die. Additionally, the imprecise practice of medicine sometimes makes deciding who has hope and who does not less than assured.

Worse, these groups that push assisted suicide are often less interested in the patient than they are the concept. They’ll kill anyone in order to push their ideological policy ideas. This leaves vulnerable patients open for exploitation.

So, because humans are fallible and because I am against giving the power of life and death over common citizens to government, I am wholly against assisted suicide. In this case, we see how arbitrary and how illegitimate the decision can be. This woman had a mental problem not a physical, debilitating illness. There was no legitimate reason to help her kill herself.