Should the use of euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide be legal? “The right of a competent, terminally ill person to avoid excruciating pain and embrace a timely and dignified death bears the sanction of history and is implicit in the concept of ordered liberty.
The exercise of this right is as central to personal autonomy and bodily integrity as rights safeguarded by this Court’s decisions relating to marriage, family relationships, procreation, contraception, child-rearing and the refusal or termination of life-saving medical treatment. In particular, this Court’s recent decisions concerning the right to refuse medical treatment and the right to abortion instruct that a mentally competent, terminally ill person has a protected liberty interest in choosing to end intolerable suffering by bringing about his or her own death.
I have to agree with this statement from ACIU (American Civil Liberties Union). There is a lot of controversies when it comes to this topic; it is amazing how people could have such different perspectives on assisted suicide. Proponents of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide contend that terminally ill people should have the right to end their suffering with a quick, dignified, and compassionate death. For years doctors have been prohibited to helping patients end their life. Most of us remember Dr.
Jack Kevorkian, he was known throughout the world for assisting in 130 suicides illegally from 1990 to 1998. In the 1980’s Jack wrote articles for a German journal called Medicine and Law this is where his thinking started about poor ethics in euthanasia. Dr. Kevorkian used two different kinds of machines that he had made himself, the first one was called Thanatron (The death machine) this machine uses an IV and the patient would push a button and it would release the drugs to end their life.
The second one was called the Mercitron also known as the (Mercy machine) this device was a mask that the patient would put on and it would release carbon monoxide to end their life. Jack Kevorkian was in and out of court but wasn’t really convicted of anything until the year 1999, when he was found guilty of second-degree homicide. Kevorkian was sentenced to a 10-25 year prison sentence. Many of the families thank him for his gratitude. After he was released he has been to many Universities speaking about many different topics.
He was also interviewed by many TV stations, CNN is one of them. Anderson Cooper asked, “You are saying doctors play God all the time? ” Kevorkian replied “Of course. Anytime you interfere with a natural process, you are playing God. ” If you want to know more about Dr. Kevorkian and his assisted suicides there is a good movie called “You Don’t Know Jack” Directed by Barry Levinson that gives fine example of what his patents were like and what he was willing to go through to help people end the suffering. Here are some opinion polls that have been taken different times and different places.
May 08 2006 There was the gallop poll in which 1,002 Adults were asked these two questions, “When a person has a disease that can’t be cured, do you think that doctors should be allowed by law end a patient’s life by some painless means if patient and family request it? The results were, 69% said yes, 27% said no, and 4% said maybe. The second question that they asked was, when a person has a disease that can’t be cured and living with severe pain, do you think doctors should or should not be allowed by law to assist the patient to commit suicide if the patients request it? 4% people said that they should be able too, 36% said shouldn’t, and 5% said unsure. In most of the surveys that were done more people were more in favor of letting a physician help patient’s wishes than not in favor of it. The top 15 reasons on why people think it would be beneficial to legalize assisted suicide:
- Tremendous suffering of a patient can be saved. Certain types of cancer can result in a slow agonizing death, what purpose would it serve to suffer until the end, when the body gives out?
- The right to die should be a fundamental freedom of each person.
- Nowhere in the constitution does it state or imply that the government has the right to keep a person from committing suicide, a competent individual should be allowed to choose assisted suicide, after all if this is the wish of the patient and the family agree that this is what they want to do, whose business is it anyway, who is it really going to hurt?
- Patients can die with dignity. Dying patients sometimes lose all ability of being able to take care of themselves, vomiting and drooling. Loss of control of urination and stools are some of the things that a nurse’s aide would have to tend too.
- Most people want to be remembered for who they once were, not how they ended up being, sick frail, just waiting to die.
- Health care cost can be reduced, which would save estates and lower insurance premiums. Consider the huge cost to keeping a dying patient alive for months, it’s not unheard of for medical cost to equal to 50,000-to-100,000 to keep some patients alive, we have to ask ourselves, is the best way to spend our money when the patient himself would like to die?
- Nurse and doctor time can be freed up to work on savable patients. We face a critical shortage of medical staff in this country, especially nurses.
- Recent studies confirm that under staffed hospitals make more mistakes and provide a lesser quality care.
- Prevention of suicide is a violation of religious freedom. A significant part of religious beliefs involves what happens in the afterlife. By preventing suicide the government is imposing its religious belief that suicide is a sin. No one knows what happens after we die; it should be up to the patient’s beliefs or wishes to do what they believe they should do.
- Pain and anguish of patients family and friends can be lessened, and they can say there final goodbye.
- It’s emotionally and physically draining for the patient and the family, to have the stress drawn out for so long. Assisted suicide would allow the patient to say his final good byes and die with dignity.
- Reasonable laws can be constructed to prevent abuse and still protect the value of human life. You can proscribe waiting periods, get additional signatures of family members who are for the patient’s wishes, Get two doctors opinions and psychological examination to see if client is mentally capable of making the choice of suicide, and limit the proceed to certain illnesses.
- Oregon and the UK have put laws to test and they seem to be working for the best, this helps prevent doctor abuse.
- Vital organs can be saved, which could help save the lives of others. We have a long waiting list for organs to be donated to save human life, most people in need of organs transplant will die if they don’t get it in time.
- Without physician’s assistance, people might commit suicide in a messy, horrifying, and traumatic way. The elderly have the highest rate for suicide. Older Americans often see nothing ahead but pain and loneliness.
So if these people are going to kill themselves, which would be better controlled and compassionate doctor assisted suicide or taking a bunch of pills, jumping of a building, or a bullet to the head. Opponents of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide contend that doctors have a moral responsibility to keep their patents alive as reflected by the Hippocratic Oath. These are the top 7 reasons that people say no to assisted suicide:
- Upon receiving a medical degree, each doctor is required to take the Hippocratic Oath, Which says among other things, “First, do not harm”. The oath was somewhat created in part so patients could be reassured that doctors are only there to help them, not hurt them. Assisted Suicide is a violation of that Oath.
- It demeans the value of human life. The thing that elevates Western society above others is the way we value human life, to stomp out a life because it’s more convenient or cheaper, demeans the value of human life. Human life is more than a cluster of biological cells.
- It could open the flood gates to non-critical patient suicides and other abuses. Opponents are afraid that loosening the assisted suicide law could lead to abuse of privileges, attitudes would loosen to the point that certain states may decide that any person could commit suicide at any time. This could shatter are values.
- Many religions prohibit suicide and the intentional killing of others. Religious people and people living in a religious context are more strongly opposed to euthanasia. The most basic commandment is “Thou Shall Not Kill”.
- Doctors and family may be prompted to give up on recovery much too early. This wipes out valuable time that could be spent with family and friends; it could also wipe out that slim chance of recovery or the possibility of discovering that the doctor made an error in diagnosis. Miracle cures and recoveries have been known to occur by giving life up you could pass up your chance. We should never get to a point where we spend more time looking for a way out of life than for a way to sustain it.
- Government and insurance companies could put undue pressure on doctors to avoid heroic measures or recommend the assisted-suicide procedure.
- Doctors are given too much power and could be wrong or unethical. Doctors have the ability to play god and decide who they encourage or discourage on the prospect on recovery. Perhaps the strongest argument made on behalf of legalizing Euthanasia or assisted suicide is that it, like abortion, is a “choice” issue. Proponents argue that euthanasia/ assisted suicide is, “the ultimate civil right,” and that to deprive mentally competent, terminally ill people who want to end their suffering of a “peaceful aid in dying” is to fundamentally disrespect their right to a personal autonomy.
Proponents also argue that legalizing euthanasia/assisted suicide is a necessary” insurance policy” that will ensure that no one dies in painful agony or unremitting suffering. Advocates contend that euthanasia/assisted suicide is little different from pain control since both use strong drugs and patients’ deaths are occasionally unintentionally hastened as a side effect of the narcotics used in palliation. They also claim that doctors commonly engage euthanasia/assisted suicide surreptitiously and promote legalization as a way to protect vulnerable patients from abuses inherent in the current “unregulated” practice.
These are the basic pros and cons of euthanasia/assisted suicide that I found throughout a lot of different sources, basically they all lead to the same debates for both sides. One thing that stuck out to me was religion and that there is some that are for euthanasia/assisted suicide and there are some that were against it. Protestants and the people that live in protestant countries have more favorable attitudes towards euthanasia, than do Catholics and people living in Catholic countries. I am prochoice on euthanasia/assisted suicide.
I believe that if a person that is mentally competent at the time of illness or at the time they make out a living will, should be able to choose what they want done if or when the time comes. Like an abortion, I feel that people should have the rights to choose what to do with their own body and life. After reading some of the touching letters that people wrote about how thankful they were to see that their loved one was not suffering anymore and that they could finally rest in peace, I kind of pictured it as if it were me or someone that I was close too and was thinking that’s what I would want too.
I remember watching my auntie die slowly from cancer and in the end if we didn’t have to see her waist away to nothing and suffer, she probably would have chosen to die with dignity and made her last impression as we once knew her. We all suffered as much as she did, it is difficult to see a loved one in such anguish for so long. Like they say it’s physically and emotionally draining for everyone. I can’t believe all the court cases on euthanasia/assisted suicide and how most states just won’t allow it.
Most majorities of people are for it, in almost all countries. There are only two states that allow euthanasia/assisted suicide in the United States and that is organ and Montana. I looked up the Wisconsin law and it is illegal to assist with suicide, The law states “whoever with intent that another take his or her own life assist such person to commit suicide is guilty of a Class H felony” For a class H felony, the penalty is a fine up to 10,000 or imprisonment of up to six years, or both.
I don’t think that anyone should be able to help a person with suicide besides a physician and I also agree that if this were legal it could work as long as there were laws to protect us against doctors abusing their power, Like making the person get more than one doctors opinion and seeing a psychologist to make sure that they were mentally capable to make this kind of division.
I also think that people should be able to include this in their living will, If they can put in their living will do not to resuscitate or no breathing machines that’s the same as saying let me die, but if they could use assisted suicide at least they don’t have to lay there for days suffering and waiting to die, that makes more sense to let them die without waiting. Well at least the punishment isn’t too bad if someone does assist a loved one with suicide.
Some people may think that six years is a small price to pay to help someone they love rest in peace, for me it would depend on how much they were suffering and if that’s what they really wanted. Basically Im all for it I stand behind most people, but what I don’t understand is why the government doesn’t stand behind the people of this country and leave it to the person suffering to decide. This is a very heavy topic and what I think really needs to be done is let the people of this country have the freedom to make out a living will that specifies when they would like to be assisted in dying.
Just the thought of people who have their feeding tubes disconnected and left there to suffer and starve to death is inhumane. It would save a lot of stress on the family if they could say there final goodbye’s and let their loved one dye with the help of a physician to end all suffering. If I was in a position where the breathing machine or feeding tube needed to be disconnected I would choose euthanasia.
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