The Physician-Assisted Suicide

The should be a legal option for terminally ill patients, that is my beleif. A perfect example of this statement is the case of forty-one year-old Peter Cinque who was in the terminal stages of diabetes several years ago. He was blind, had lost both legs, and suffered from ulcers and cardiovascular problems, as well. He was being kept alive by a kidney dialysis machine. Then one day he asked his doctors to stop the treatment. As a conscious, rational adult, he had the legal right to determine what should or should not be done to his body. But the hospital authorities refused to honor this right until he had been examined by two psychiatrists to test his mental competence. After this, the hospital obtained a court order that required him to continue with dialysis treatments. A few days later, Mr. Cimque stopped breathing.

He had suffered from brain damage and was in a coma. Only after this and two court hearings in the hospital that he was finally permitted to exercise his constitutional right of self-determination. What an unfortunate incident. Mr. Cinque was forced to prolong his suffering due to a lack of guidelines to ensure the right of self-determination. For this reason, euthanasia must be legalized in a way that individuals to decide for themselves what should or should not be done to their bodies. That is, laws must be strengthened and guidelines must be set to ensure the right of euthanasia will not be denied to people.

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Physician assisted suicide presents one of the greatest dilemmas to the medical profession. Should someone who is mentally competent, but said to be terminally ill, be allowed to decide if he/she wants to partake in physician assisted suicide? According to the First Amendment of The Constitution of The United States, “one has the freedom to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” The Fourteenth Amendment states, “The State cannot deprive any person of life, liberty or property, without due process of law; nor deny any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” The law clearly states that a terminally ill patient has the Constitutional right to decide whether or not to end his or her life with the help of a licensed medical doctor. There have been many cases over the years where a terminally ill patient who is mentally competent has made the choice to either partake in physician-assisted suicide or euthanasia, as seen in the case discissed before.

Some supporters of the right to assisted suicide suggest that the knowledge that suicide is an option might help patients to live longer. David Orentlicher, an associate law professor at Indiana University School of Law in Indianapolis and a former director of the AMA’s division of medical ethics, says that if people know they can request help to die, they may no longer fear “aggressive medical treatments that are painful and risky” but that may extend their lives. They may also simply be given peace of mind and freedom from anxiety over their worsening condition.

The relief of pain and access to quality medical care is a crucial component of the assisted-suicide debate. Opponents argue that doctors should emphasize pain relief and the diagnosis and treatment of clinical depression. Then, they say, fewer patients would ask for help in dying because their concerns would be adequately addressed. Dr. William Wood, clinical director of the Winship Cancer Center at Emory University in Atlanta, Ga., told Time in April 1996, “If we treat their depression and we treat their pain, I’ve never had a patient who wanted to die.” Opponents say that dying patients deserve improved care, not an invitation to end their lives. Many opponents advise hospice care — home-based, personalized care for the dying — as an option that patients would likely choose over both institutionalized care or suicide if it were available to them.

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The Physician-Assisted Suicide. (2019, Jan 17). Retrieved from