Print Column: Should the State Have the Power to Compel Us to Live?


According to law enforcement reports, on June 1 a Fargo couple put their will on their kitchen table and then went into their garage to attempt suicide by inhaling carbon monoxide fumes.

That didn’t work for Louis and Ila Averson, both 85 and suffering from poor health, so Louis got his handgun and shot his wife in the chest, killing her. He then shot himself in the chest but survived.

He’s now hospitalized and charged with Class AA felony murder for “intentionally or knowingly causes the death of another human being,” per court records.

Even if the story as presented to us is true, that Louis Averson was helping his wife commit suicide, a person who “who intentionally or knowingly aids, abets, facilitates, solicits or incites another person to commit suicide” is guilty of a Class C felony according to the North Dakota Century Code.

The facts of that case will be adjudicated, and Mr. Averson is innocent of any crime until proven guilty in court. But for the rest of us, this situation perhaps demonstrates the need to answer an important question.

Should we citizens have the right to die? Or, put another way, should the state have the power to compel us to live?

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