Physician-Assisted Suicide Should Become Legalized
Ever since the beginning of America, human rights have been established to help develop the freedom’s that exist today. The right to refuse unwanted medical treatment is a perfect example of such rights (statistic). Meaning, if a patient denies further treatment, the doctor must respect and obey the patient’s decision. Shouldn’t a person be allowed to decide when they wish to die? (rhetorical question). Currently, the law states that physician-assisted suicide is illegal under all circumstances; this even affects those with terminal or incurable illnesses. By not legalizing assisted suicide the government is causing pain and suffering to terminal citizens; also they are prohibiting a dignified human right.
If a person discovered that they had a disease with only a low percentage of being cured, that may leave them feeling helpless and insecure. Of course, the doctor could continue treatments and operations (appeals to authority), but after a while, enough is enough. As the hospital bills begin rising and the operations are no longer helping, the patient begins wondering if there’s a light at the end of the tunnel or if they are going to be left alone in the dark (metaphor). With physician-assisted suicide, medical costs/hospital bills would be severely reduced which could help the economy in the future, and the patient’s family as well. Doctor and writer Wesley J. Smith suggests, “A poison that killed one patient cost $40. It could cost the Health Maintenance Organization $40,000 to care for them properly until natural death comes,” The medication would not be offered to any random person, only those with terminal illnesses and no desire to carry on. Death assistance should only be available towards those whom nothing else is going to save them (Connors). People with depression should not have the same privileges as the terminally ill patients; only due to the fact that must depression can be cured eventually.
Along with all the money going towards operations, comes the stress and suffering of the patient. Life for a patient is like a novel, it has a beginning, a rising action, a climax, a falling action and the end. If pain gets in the way and lengthens the amount of time before the end, then the novel may not be worth finishing, or in other words, life should not continue on longer than it has to. Everyone wants a peaceful, non-dramatic death; it’s a commonly shared idea (hyperbole). “Even where there is much suffering, dying people can find moments of meaning and connection,” says Doctor Timothy E. Quill. When people get caught between the choice of life or death, they find a different kind of mindset. Their priorities for themselves are more accurate, and they suddenly know what the best decision is for themselves. It’s obvious that patients who are suffering cannot ignore the fact that the pain will go away. The longer they choose to stay alive, the more it will affect them and possibly lead them to an unhealthy mindset. Quill also adds, “When we can help people achieve a peaceful, calm death, the kind of death we would all like to have, we are doing a wonderful task”. When it comes down to it, these terminal patients have been down a rough path and deserve nothing more than a peaceful, pain-free death.
As previously stated, all patients have the right to refuse any medical treatment that they do not wish to have. A recent poll found that only 61% of people were aware of this law, and unfortunately 10% believed that the law demands a patient to accept any treatment the doctor wishes to provide (Torr). All terminal patients should have the general idea of their future, and perhaps knowing this outcome will help them decide what to do. If they notice that their future consists of a lot of risky surgeries, they may not wish to proceed. Unfortunately, things are not that easy in the medical world. When it comes to surgery, not one person will have the same outcome of another. The surgery may help some people; it could also make their status worse, or possibly will have no effect on the body. It’s just a risk that doctor’s have to take when they perform surgery, not knowing how the body will react. Sometimes these risks frighten the patient, and make them lean more towards death. Without assisted suicide, the ‘natural’ death of some patients may not come for months or even years. So then they’d have to deal with an endless period of suffering, which seems too inhumane for American freedoms.
On the reverse side, many argue that physician-assisted suicide is not that way to go. There are a ton of reported cases of illegal assisted suicides all across the country. In Washington State one year, around 16% of physicians were asked to assist a patient in their death, and a quarter of those doctors gave patients lethal medication (Torr). Some also may seem assisted suicide as the easy way out, and that the patient must be at an ultimate low in their life if all they can think about is death. They find these people to be cowards and believe that they should take the risk of surgery, for the simple reason that you only have one life. Also, some would even consider assisted suicide as murder, even though the patient is the one who is requesting it. These people such as James D. Torr from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, believe that there are other alternatives out there. Torr says, “The physician’s safest course is to tell a patient seeking medical assistance in dying, ‘it’s illegal. Doctors don’t do this. You’re on your own”. He then feels that the patient will understand and seek another alternative instead of his or her own life.
The fact of the matter is, the government should not be allowed to control when a terminal patient chooses to die. If the patient is in such horrible agony, and they refuse to take any more medical procedures, they should be given the option to take their own life with assistance peacefully. It’s understandable why some people feel as if physician-assisted suicide is unacceptable, but at the same time, how is a person supposed to argue against a topic that they haven’t experienced for themselves? They wouldn’t have the proper knowledge to support their opinion. If physician-assisted suicides were to become legal, it could relieve terminal patients of agony and stress, also it could benefit our hospital’s and citizens financially.
Connors, Paul. “The Right-to-Die Movement Supports Death on Demand.” 2007. Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center. Gale. CRHS LMC, Mullica Hill. 19 Mar. 2009.
Keyword: Assisted Suicide
Quill, Timothy E. “Dying Patients Should Have Access to Both Hospice Care and Assisted Suicide.” 2000. Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center. Gale. CRHS LMC, Mullica Hill. 19 Mar. 2009. Keyword: Assisted Suicide
Smith, Wesley J. “Physician-Assisted Suicide Should Not Be Legalized.” 2002. Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center. Gale. CRHS LMC, Mullica Hill. 19 Mar. 2009.
Keyword: Assisted Suicide
Torr, James D. “Physician-Assisted Suicide Should Not Be Legalized.” 2000. Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center. Gale. CRHS LMC, Mullica Hill. 19 Mar. 2009.
Keyword: Assisted Suicide