Regrettably, our memory of the history of medicalization is short and selective: We remember its glories and forget its infamies, especially as they relate to sexual behavior. When I was born, contraception was under complete medical control and abortion was illegal. When I was an intern in a Boston hospital, offering contraceptive advice, much less providing a contraceptive device, was a criminal offense. Only in 1965, in the celebrated case of Griswold v. Connecticut, did the Supreme Court strike down as unconstitutional the statute that made it a crime for a person to "artificially prevent contraception." In that landmark case, the Court repealed the law that prohibited a conduct the law deemed illegal. It did not medicalize the alleged "condition" that motivates such conduct: The Court did not call the fear of pregnancy and the desire to avoid it a "disease," nor did it call engaging in the formerly prohibited conduct "physician-assisted contraception" or classify it as a "treatment." In short, the right to practice contraception was placed in the hands of the people, not in the hands of physicians.
Abortion underwent a similar metamorphosis, from sin to crime to right, with a brief stop-over as a treatment. When abortion was legalized, the mental illness whose treatment justified therapeutic abortion vanished. When suicide is legalized, the mental illness whose treatment justifies its therapeutic prevention will also vanish.
Although performing an abortion and developing effective methods of birth control entail the use of medical knowledge and skill, abortion and contraception are not medical matters. The same is true for suicide. Although killing oneself with a drug entails the use of medical knowledge and requires access to the necessary substance, suicide is not a medical matter. We ought to deal with death control the same way we have dealt with birth control: by removing it from the purview of Medicine and the State, by repealing all medical and legal interference with the act. [Bolded emphasis mine; italics in original; citations omitted.]
From Fatal Freedom: The Ethics and Politics of Suicide, by Thomas Szasz.