The recent stories of Brittany Maynard and Jennifer Lawrence are quite different in circumstance and gravity. But both women are suffering. And both have a skewed way of rationalizing what is happening to them.

My glioblastoma is going to kill me, and that’s out of my control. I’ve discussed with many experts how I would die from it, and it’s a terrible, terrible way to die. Being able to choose to go with dignity is less terrifying. . . . I believe this choice is ethical, and what makes it ethical is it is a choice.  . . . I’m dying, but I’m choosing to suffer less, to put myself through less physical and emotional pain and my family as well.

–Brittany Maynard in People Magazine 

Just because I’m a public figure, just because I’m an actress, does not mean that I asked for this. It does not mean that it comes with the territory. It’s my body, and it should be my choice, and the fact that it is not my choice is absolutely disgusting. I can’t believe that we even live in that kind of world.

–Jennifer Lawrence in Vanity Fair

Choice. We are, of course, all too familiar with “choice” as a euphemism for abortion. But now, “choice” is being championed as the trump card to make any behavior acceptable, no matter how physically or emotionally destructive it may be to the chooser.

Jennifer Lawrence very rightly feels violated by all of the people viewing pornographic photographs of her. It is wrong for nameless faceless men to be lusting after her body, separating her sexuality from the wholeness and beauty of her personhood. It’s wrong, because it is WRONG. Not, as she seems to think, because it wasn’t her CHOICE to allow them to do so. It would still be wrong, even if she had chosen it.

Because people make bad choices.

Brittany’s situation is more grave than Jennifer’s. It’s more permanent as well. There is no changing your mind once you’ve killed yourself. She can’t know what tragedy or beauty her future might hold. And even though she, just like all of us, has probably made thousands of dumb choices in her life, in this most important of circumstances, we are to believe that just having chosen to commit suicide will make suicide the right choice.

People are dumb. We are emotional, irrational, fallen creatures. We choose wrong.

We need to be admonished for our bad choices, or counseled away from them, to avoid them in the first place, rather than celebrated for making them.

People who choose suicide and pornography don’t feel like they have any other options. And that’s not really a choice.

Nude photos of Jennifer Lawrence were available to be stolen and distributed online because she felt that she HAD to create them. 

I started to write an apology, but I don’t have anything to say I’m sorry for. I was in a loving, healthy, great relationship for four years. It was long distance, and either your boyfriend is going to look at porn or he’s going to look at you.

–Jennifer Lawrence in Vanity Fair
That doesn’t sound empowered, that sounds resigned.

And Brittany Maynard seems to believe that her life is worth less if it becomes difficult for others.

I probably would have suffered in hospice care for weeks or even months. And my family would have had to watch that. I did not want this nightmare scenario for my family, so I started researching death with dignity.

–Brittany Maynard in her CNN Op-Ed

She’s not alone. A Dutch study found that social and psychologic factors (e.g. concern regarding a loss of dignity, fears of becoming a burden to others) comprised four of the five most frequently cited reasons for euthanasia requests. . . . But in an early study of desire for death among terminally ill patients in an inpatient palliative care unit, of the 200 patients interviewed, only 10 acknowledged any suicidal ideation or desire for hastened death, and all 10 of these patients were diagnosed by a psychiatrist as suffering from a major depressive disorder (based on DSM-III criteria). They reported that treatment for depression resulted in resolution of patients’ desire for death.

Treating the patients helps them. Not just supporting any old crazy thing they want to do just because they CHOOSE it.

It is a bad idea to kill oneself whether or not a person chooses to do it. It is a bad idea to make pornography whether or not a person chooses to do it.

Evil doesn’t become good because it is chosen. And “choice” doesn’t become a virtue by calling it one.