There probably isn’t one person that can say that they haven’t watched somebody they love in some way suffer from and ultimately die from some sort of unfortunate disease. Assisted suicide is a very controversial topic in the United States. Physician assisted suicide is defined as suicide committed by a terminally ill person with help from another person. This subject causes many controversies of ethical and moral issues. Some of these issues are that it violates the doctors Hippocratic Oath, suicide is ruled wrong in many religions, and some even say it degrades the value of human life.
However, physician assisted suicide should be legalized because it offers terminally ill people an opportunity for a peaceful death and allows a terminally ill patient to die with dignity. Physician assisted suicide was first popularized in 1998 with the arrest of Dr. Kevorkian, whom aided in the deaths of over 130 terminally ill patients through assisted suicide (McHugh). Since popularized in 1998 assisted suicide for the terminally ill has been legalized in five U. S. states: New Mexico, Vermont, Montana, Oregon and Washington (euthanasia. procon.org).
Assisted Suicide is the procedure of getting a physician to assist you in ending your life because of having a terminal disease that is causing suffering and despair on you and all those around you. The actual procedure consist of: first a person would need to make a “formal oral request to the physician, 15 days later, you need to make another oral request. ” The doctor still won’t be able to prescribe lethal drugs until you file a written request form signed by two witnesses. The doctor will then go over any alternative measures like hospice care, advice patients to confer with their family or next of kin, and remind them that it’s ok to change their mind at any time.
Two days after receiving a written request a doctor can prescribe lethal drugs, but under no circumstances can she administer them herself. After about 5 minutes of taking one of two optional drugs for assisted suicide the person will slip into a coma and within 30 minutes most people who take the drug will die. The two drugs offered for physician assisted suicide are secobarbital and pentobarbital. Secobarbital is the most commonly prescribed of the two forms.
The medication typically come in 9 g of secobarbital in capsules or 10 g of pentobarbital liquid, to be consumed at one time (Fass and Fass). Most everyone sees assisted suicide as morally wrong due to religious beliefs and changing their mind could be an impossible task. Others find it shouldn’t be legalized because too many people will see it as an easy way out, and people who could be cured or don’t even have a medical condition will be wanting to get a physician to give them a lethal dose of medicine too.
In this regard, it is possible to suggest introducing legal changes, which could ban the application of assisted suicide without the consent of a patient and his/her relatives. On the other hand, there should be an opportunity for patients and their families to have the option of assisted suicide.
At this point, the legislation should admit assisted suicide only in cases, when the further physical life of patients is pointless, for instance, when patients’ life is maintained by special medical equipment and there is no hope of recovery. In fact, such situations are cases, where patients would be dead if it were not for medical machines keeping them alive.
It is argued that assisted suicide goes against the Hippocratic Oath of doctors and therefore should not be legalized because it is a doctor’s job to maintain and save lives. However, a growing number of physicians have come to feel that the Hippocratic Oath is inadequate to address the realities of a medical world that has witnessed huge scientific, economic, political, and social changes, a world of legalized abortion, physician-assisted suicide, and pestilences unheard of in Hippocrates’ time.
Another argument against assisted suicide is that of religious beliefs that it goes against Gods wishes and would condemn that person to Hell. However according to many accounts the bible never actually brings up the subject of suicide it only says we are not to murder and the bible also talks about mercy kills and even allows it when Abimelek, believing himself to be fatally wounded (with a fractured skull after being hit on the head by a millstone), asks his armour-bearer to kill him. His request is granted (Saunders, Peter). Murder is the unlawful taking of life, and killing is the lawful taking of life.
If a nation said that euthanasia was legal, then on a human level itwould not be murder and would not be unlawful. Most everyone says that it is against human dignity to partake in physician assisted suicide some disagree and instead say this: It would be an indignity to force… others to die against their will, but an equal indignity to force him to remain alive… against his will.
Human dignity is not possible without the acknowledgment of personal sovereignty. (D Ngai). Ngai points out how it would be unfair to not allow someone to die in dignity by participating in physician assisted suicide. Some people are even going as far as to say that physician assisted suicide degrades the value of human life by saying it is better for a person to die then to live.
I know that a human’s life shouldn’t be measured by dollars, but keeping terminally ill patients alive in their last days cost from $50,000 to $100,000 (Nixon). Keep in mind this is just for the last few days. Would you want to leave your family with that kind of financial burden? It’s sad but this is something that a dying person thinks about and worries about. I don’t think a value should be placed on a life if the life that the person is living is not the kind of life they would find valuable.
Imagine this, you are happy and content in life you have a successful job, a loving husband, a big house full of nice things, and three beautiful kids ages 3,7,12, then one day you get light headed and your vision blurs and the next thing you remember is you are in a hospital bed and you have been poked and prodded and your husband sits beside you holding your hand and fighting back tears. The doctors come in and tell you that you have a large tumor on your brain and that it is terminal; they tell you that you only have six months to live and that you should get your affairs in order.
Three months later you have come to terms with the fact that you are dying, you have made all arrangements and you have spent all the time you could with your loved ones; the cancer is getting worst and you can feel it taking over your body and your life. You stay sick and you are constantly in pain, none of the medicines fully take away the pain and the ones that mask it make you nauseated and sick. Your kids cry at night and they have to leave the room when you moan in pain; your doctor bills are adding up and you feel worthless and you know these are going to be the last memories your children and husband will hold of you. If given the option of assisted suicide would you take it?
Even though arguments insists that assisted suicide goes against a doctor’s Hippocratic Oath, is morally wrong in aspects of religious beliefs, and is said to degrade the value of human life, assisted suicide is an idea that needs to be explored further and given serious consideration.
If assisted suicide and/or euthanasia is to be legalized than very strict regulations would have to be used to insure that it would only be used as a last resort after all other options had been exhausted. If the patient is so overcome with pain and suffering then it is best that they should be given the option to end their suffering. The job of the people in the medical field is to do what is best for the patient and sometimes ending the suffering is the best option.
Works Cited State-by-State Guide to Physician-Assisted Suicide Euthanasia Pros and Cons. Web. April 17, 2014 Euthanasia. procon. org State-by-State Guide to Physician-Assisted Suicide Fass, Jennifer and Fass, Andrea Physician-assisted Suicide, Ongoing Challenges for Pharmacists.
Am J Health Syst Pharm. 2011; 68(9):846-849. Sanders, Peter. “Euthanasia-What does the bible say? ” Web. September 2013 http://www. cmf. org. uk/publications/content. asp? context=article&id=26093 D Ngai. Turning Off the Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator to Prevent Pre-Death Electrical Shocks: An Exercise and Right in the Refusal of Medical Treatment. The Internet Journal of Law, Healthcare and Ethics. 2010 Volume 7 Number 1. Nixon Dr. The patient has a right to decide when and how to die! Web. October 4, 2009 http://pulltheplugonlife. wordpress. com/.