Where should governmental powers of intervention with regards to your body start and stop?
Let’s start with an example to start the discussion of the ideas: You have been diagnosed with a serious illness, your prognosis is not good. Current medical techniques are insufficient to help you. Your doctor lets you know there is an experimental procedure originally created by an American company, that has already been approved in Europe but has not yet passed the FDA. You are going to die unless you do something, so you want to take this experimental drug. As it stands, the FDA will not legally allow you to take it, one supposes under the concern that you might die.
Who should get control over whether you can take a drug or not? You or the FDA?
Several modifying factors:
- There is a clear legal situation to already cover it when a person is deemed “not in their right mind”. We have laws and cases to handle it when someone is not capable of making sound decisions for their life. Let’s assume that is still the case and independent of this discussion. In other words, we are assuming that you are capable of “informed consent” about what you are doing to your body. The FDA is not needed here.
- We also already have clear case law to cover it when a company hurts people through gross negligence or fails to inform the users/consumers of the risks in their product. Again for the purposes, this exists currently and we would assume that would continue, so the company would be breaking the law if they were making shoddy drugs or failing to inform the consumer. The FDA is not needed here.
So in the above cases, the Judicial system already handles things, protecting liberty.
FDA as the role of informing people about the respective concerns with drugs seems to maximize liberty.
What level of control should the FDA have about telling you what you can and cannot consume?
The government tried prohibition of alcohol to a massive failure in the early 1900’s.
One argument that really worries me as dangerous is “the government should have control over your body to protect you from yourself.”
This argument is typically used as a justification for criminalizing “serious” drugs or making euthanasia illegal.
But if we accept the premise that the government should be taking control of your body away from you to protect you from yourself then we have an interesting situation…
We have more than enough evidence about current health trends to know that most people are killing themselves through their diet and exercise levels. The top killers of Americans are all related to their diet, not guns or terrorists.
Since that is the case, then if the government has a duty to interfere to protect you from your own decisions about your body, then by extension the government SHOULD, especially in light of the risk to American lives, be making it illegal to not exercise, it should be illegal to eat certain quantities of bad food.
If you think the government should not be doing that, then perhaps you think the government can not use the excuse of protecting you from yourself.
I think there are clearly a number of very serious things that you can do to your body that should be regulated. I am comfortable with the idea that any serious drug use should be heavily regulated. We administer many very serious drugs in hospitals under a doctor’s discretion. Other countries have been able to lower their serious drug usage by having clinics that provide the drugs. So instead of people using unhealthy needles or being in dangerous circumstances, they are in a clean clinic where they can get counseling to stop, even while they are still using. Now you know any serious drug user is getting treatment. Telling them they will go to jail if they use will not help if they are addicted. Many of these drugs have power medicinal purposes. Why does the government get to tell you what you can do with your body? If you are aware of the risks and the drug can help you deal with the pain, why shouldn’t you be able to do that with supervision?
Like the first amendment, it specifically means that when you give someone a liberty, then they may not do what you want with it. But that has to be their choice. Many Christian religions say that God gave mankind choice, that humans need to CHOOSE him, that is the point of faith. You can’t legislate that someone believes in God. If you give people free speech, then there will be some people who will say things you don’t like. But without free speech then life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are worse. The same with control of your own body. If the government must not interfere with your liberty to choose what to do with your body, then some will surely do something stupid with their body. Btu the reverse is worse. Do you want a government that can tell you that you must take certain drugs, that you must eat in a certain way?
I am very comfortable with the idea that euthanasia should be heavily regulated. It should probably require a psych evaluation to determine if you are in your right mind and capable of informed consent. Eg. someone who is in the last stages of a really nasty and painful cancer. They are in constant and intense pain and there is no hope of a fix. Just a grinding of time while everyone suffers, especially the person with cancer. It is only a matter of time. It seems cruel to take away their control of their body. The constitution makes it illegal to perform cruel and unusual punishment. That seems like a place for a regulated euthanasia.
Now if you are someone who believes that all life is sacred and should never be taken, then you should be in support of this. Because if the government has the right to control your body, then in the situation above, the government could regulate that you must be killed, to reduce the suffering and hideous expense. If you think the government shouldn’t be regulating what happens to your body, then that means that people must be free to make their own decisions.