Should people who are terminally ill, endure tremendous amounts of pain and suffer helplessly in a hospital bed be given the choice end their own life? I feel they should. But how can someone assist a terminally ill person in taking their life and not risk going to jail for it? This provokes the controversial and moral debate of legalization of P.A.D. (Physician Assisted Death) and the act of euthanasia in America. Should people who are terminally ill have a choice to end their terminal illness early?
Be aware, there is a difference between P.A.D. and euthanasia. P.A.D. involves a second party, a physician, who gives the patient access to drugs and directs the person on how to take his or her own life. Euthanasia on the other hand, is a physician whom intravenously administers lethal doses of a drug. Due to the homicidal attachment to euthanasia, it is illegal in every state. For instance, a doctor following a terminally ill patient’s plea to end their suffering gives the patient a lethal injection; he or she will most likely be charged with murder. However, if a doctor merely places the lethal injection near the patient’s side, and they inject it themselves, he would only be charged with assisted suicide.
This being said, the small amount of of physicians who have performed assisted-suicide and been summoned to court have never been convicted or imprisoned. Yet, most physicians will not perform assisted-suicide due the possible legal ramifications. Also, physicians are taught to preserve life and helping a patient end their life is not the norm. There are relevant issues with P.A.D. and euthanasia for both sides. However, we do not let prisoners on death row suffer. Capital punishment has more of a “homicide” effect than helping a human being to stop suffering. Our life should be something we have total control over. Ending it should be the same.
Presently, there are a number of people supporting the legalization of euthanasia. Doctors have been trying to assist terminally ill patients who no longer wish to live (Emanuel 2). For example, the growing number of popular opinion votes at the polls prove the majority of Americans are in favor of euthanasia. Continuing the climb in the populations support will effectively get the Government to take notice. The positive influence of Americans supporting the act, should prompt the Government to legalize assisted-suicide and / or euthanasia? A PARADE survey validates the public does not want to see its terminally ill citizens dying in pain. Preferably they want people do die in peace with minimal amount of suffrage. (Ubell 2). In a more recent poll, 79 percent of society is in favor of P.A.D; 12 percent are against it, and the other 9 percent are neutral (2). The consensus is Americans are morally, compassionate individuals which I am sure cause the conflict of whether or not to help someone die. But once again, it should be a person’s own choice.
Second of all, human life is more important than animal life. We are taught to never let an animal suffer. If a horse gets hurt, they do not let it lie in pain. No, we shoot them. But a person can lie day after day, in bed, with no way of eating or talking. Just wave after wave of pain washes through their fragile bodies. This can last for weeks, months and even years. Why shouldn’t we be allowed to stop the suffering? So why do people differentiate between pain and suffering when it comes between animals and humans. At least the person can end their life with reverence and self-respect.
Thirdly, the majority of people opposing euthanasia believe only God can give and take away life. I agree with this in regards to abortions and murders which are situations that eliminate an individual’s choice with life. Although, Lord Soper, a member or the House of Lords, is an important Methodist minister that supports voluntary euthanasia. There are many religious figures that encourage active euthanasia. In the Netherlands, Catholic or Dutch reformed clergymen may be present at assisted deaths. If religious leaders believe in and practice euthanasia, why can’t our legislatures comprehend the benefits of legalizing euthanasia. “We who are Christian believers must now embrace the challenge to action, to an orthopraxis that matches our orthodox moral belief in compassionate caring for the dying (Bresnahan 5).” “We believe that, in the final moments of living, and those for whom we care are being drawn into the dying of Christ (5).” “That is a supreme moment for love and compassion, by caregivers of the dying and by the dying for their caregivers (5).” Since euthanasia is a life or death question, it stimulates many different emotions for those who oppose and support the act of euthanasia.
From a medical perspective, terminally ill people complaining of severe pain suggest the uselessness of pain medications. “People are clearly dying in pain,” said Dr. Peter Mcgough, a Seattle physician. “Speaking around the state, I have heard lots of very sad stories of what I considered to be very poor management of dying patients (Knox 2).” This is what leads people most people to seek for P.A.D. If the legislatures refuse to legalize the act of P.A.D. and euthanasia, they better find more advanced methods of palliative care and better medicine. “Medical technology has acquired an enormous capacity to extend life, but may mislead at the same time, making people believe that treatment is always worth while (Birenbaum).” If a more humane, painless way to care for our dying is not found, assisted suicide should be legalized without argument. There should be no reason a person has to suffer. Their family members should not have to suffer. If everyone had a true sense of compassion toward the dying it would not be an issue to insert an IV needle and let the person fade away peacefully. They would simply drift of to sleep and never wake up. Isn’t this the way most people prefer die? Without any harm or pain? So if a person can choose when it is necessary to have that happen, we should not allow a government to dictate our decision. I suppose “land of the free”, does not include “land of the free of pain”.
People need to put themselves in the place of a terminally ill person. They should try and realize what it is to know you’re dying, unsure of when it will take place. But will have to endure the pain without a choice. I feel if a person chooses to end his or her life before it is time, iit is usually wrong. Things can and usually will always get better. Yet, if a person is diagnosed with 6 months to live and they do not want to suffer, let them make that choice. Let there family members spend an enjoyable last few months with them. They will be able to celebrate happiness and good memories. Not sickly, heart-wrenching memories of the person in a hospital bed. Only the individual suffering should be able to say “I want to live or I want to die.”