10/03/2007 - The debate over physician-assisted suicide is often portrayed as a battle between social or religious conservatives who oppose the practice and liberals or progressives who support it. But not everyone fits neatly into this paradigm. For instance, Dr. Robert P. Jones, who calls himself a progressive, has just written a book urging liberal supporters of physician-assisted suicide (or physician aid in dying, as some supporters call it) to rethink their views, at least for now.
In Liberalism’s Troubled Search for Equality: Religion and Cultural Bias in the Oregon Physician-Assisted Suicide Debates, published earlier this year by the University of Notre Dame Press, Jones argues that the debate over whether to allow physician aid in dying should wait until the United States guarantees adequate access to health care to all of its citizens. Jones, who does not in theory oppose physician-assisted suicide, argues that without health insurance terminally ill patients could end up choosing or be pressured into choosing to prematurely end their lives for financial or similar reasons.
Jones, who holds a doctorate in religion from Emory University, is an independent consultant on religion and progressive politics and an affiliated scholar at the Center for American Progress. From 2005-2006, he served as the founding director and senior fellow of the Center for American Values in Public Life at People For the American Way Foundation. He currently serves on the national steering committee for the Religion, Politics and the State Group of the American Academy of Religion and on the national board of FaithfulDemocrats.com. He is completing a new book, to be published in July 2008, based on interviews with progressive religious leaders in Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Buddhism entitled Progressive and Religious: The New Face of Religion in American Public Life.
Robert P. Jones, author of Liberalism’s Troubled Search for Equality: Religion and Cultural Bias in the Oregon Physician-Assisted Suicide Debates
David Masci, Senior Research Fellow, Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life
Read the full Question & Answer: A Progressive Argument Against the Legalization of Physician-Assisted Suicide on the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life Web site.