The notion of the right to assisted suicide is oftentimes a controversial topic surrounding the medical industry in the United States. One side of the spectrum will argue that assisted suicide is unjustifiable because by definition, death in itself is an inevitability, not a right. On the contrary, the other side of the spectrum claims that assisted suicide by aid of physician is an ethical right to a patients free exercise of autonomy. Therer’s a multitude of factors that play into the right to assisted suicide. My argument is that so long as the terminally patient within their own mind is psychologically stable and that all other potential life-saving measures have already been instilled, then it should lawfully be within someoner’s rights to take their own life by palliative, physician induced suicide.
In terms is the United States, only eight states have legalized assisted suicide to some degree but within strict regulation. The issuing of a assisted suicide procedure within these states is still frowned upon and is only admitted for patients with a prognosis of six months or less to live. The problem with this is that being terminally ill is not only a physical battle of attrition but even more so a mental war within oneself no matter how long your prognosis is. In essence, pain and discomfort is not the sole reason for these patients wanting to take their lives. As Doctor Teresa Yao explains in her article Can We Limit a Right to Physician-Assisted Suicide?, the three most commonly answered reasons for seeking the assisted suicide procedure is because the patients have either loss their dignity, they have lost their own autonomy, or they feel like they simply cant do the things in life that made life enjoyable anymore. (Yao 5) The objective of the majority of these patients is to relieve themselves of their lost sense of purpose.
Why would we as a country only honor what these inevitably dead people have to say when the prognosis is six months or less? The physical pain seen visually to people oftentimes undermines the overall spiritual and mental anguish that these patients are going through. The sixth months to live laws are completely arbitrary. The sole reason these lawfully put in place is to appease the public side that opposes the notion all together. The argument that Doctor Yao is implying that United States as a whole was founded on the principle of autonomy. (Yao 6) What this means is essentially being prideful and living the life that you want to live. Why is it that once you become terminally ill but still have more than six months to live, you as an inevitably dead patient have lost your right to autonomy? We a nation preach the notion of autonomy in all aspects of life. Telling a terminally ill patient that they dont have the right to die peacefully at all or stipulating that a patient with a six month prognosis does completely undermines the principle all together. The reality of the United States is that the majority of the vocal public opposes physician assisted suicide all together and will only resiliently support the procedure in extreme circumstances such as disabilities or a six month prognosis. The right to die can and should be included in the right to receiving an assisted-suicide procedure no matter what the prognosis or if they are disabled. This in itself is contradictory and I happen to disagree with any form of opposition of the right to this procedure.
The other side of the spectrum on this ideology will argue that a persons right to die should be rejected no matter what the circumstances because the notion of death in itself is an inevitability, not a right guaranteed to one as an individual. Doctor Sylvia Dianne in her article Euthanasia and assisted suicide; There is an alternative. dives into the argument of the world being universally opposed to the notion of assisted suicide and for logical reasoning as to why. The first ideology displayed by Doctor Dianne is that the majority of participants in Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, and Hinduism are unanimously opposed to the motives for assisted suicide. Also, studies show that Atheists and Agnostics alike tend to question morality of the process due to the universally accepted belief about the sanctity of human life despite religiously charged influence. (Dianne 25) To these four religions, suffering is a form of overcoming, displaying resilience and ultimately bringing about the best in people. Euthanasia is in essence, implying that suffering no longer has a meaning or purpose behind it. Some of the world greatest literature, art, and music has been brought into existence because of suffering. Christians oftentimes claim that it was the unjust suffering of Christ that ultimately allowed redemption for the everyday sinners on Earth. After arguing in respect to worldwide religions and cultures, Doctor Dianne researched the issue of assisted-suicide from the medical perspective. It turns out that from the very beginnings of medically involved times till now, the sanctioning of killing patients is and never will be acceptable. Also, euthanasia practices voluntary or not are in violation of historical codes birthed in medical ethics. (Dianne 30) The explanation behind this research is that the grand majority of medical professionals feel that the practice of voluntary assisted suicide is hypocritical and goes against exactly what it is the medical professional was trained to do. What the author is insinuating is that euthanasia needs to be an absolute last resort option and rather than jumping to the conclusion of termination so rapidly, Doctors need to exhaust every avenue of potential life saving treatment first so that questioning of physician assisted suicide is never brought into question in the first place.
As a practicing Christian myself, I think that Doctor Dianne did a good job at arguing in favor of not only Christianity but also the three other most commonly practiced religions worldwide in Judaism, Buddhism, and Hinduism. When debating a topic that is correlated between science and religion I feel like this article remained fairly unbiased in that Doctor Sylvia was successful in bringing about the fact that both the medical industry and religions alike are opposed to physician assisted suicide in some way, shape, or form. It is definitely important to respect the morality and views of people when considering the topic of assisted suicide. Religions and people in general claim that human life has inherent value and that euthanasia isnt something that any medical professional wants to be responsible for. These are important variables to take into account but, I also feel that sometimes it is important to challenge such views when it comes to terminally ill patients. I personally dont see euthanasia as a last resort option. I see it as a form of immediate relief which is something medical professionals are trained to do metaphorically speaking. I also greatly oppose the argument of suffering no longer having meaning. Enduring a life of hardships and perseverance is something that brings about the best in people. Lifestyle hardships are far fetched from someone on the verge of dying, potentially going through excruciating pain and suffering. There really needs to be a deviation between the two in the eyes of someone arguing in favor of their religiously innate ideas.
I now want to revert back as to why physician assisted suicide is justifiable. Doctor Timothy Quill is actually a practicing medical professional himself and wrote his article Physicians Should Assist in Suicide When It Is Appropriate. In order to explain that in many cases, assisting suicide by a physician is actually ethically justifiable. Early on Doctor Quill claims that assisted suicide shouldnt be considered for a terminally ill patient until all aspects of excellent palliative medical care has been induced. (Quill 58) This correlates directly to the argument displayed by religiously activated Doctor Dianne in the previous article examined. After laying this foundation, Doctor Quill explains that legalization of physician assisted suicide will absolutely does not undermine improvements in palliative care and hospice. The idea for terminally ill patients having the option of the procedure is potentially a good safety blanket in that it brings the patients more tolerance and resilience to suffering knowing that there is that option if need be. After being moderate on the idea, Doctor Quill then discusses the autonomy argument similar to that of Doctor Yao. Autotomy is essentially the greatest factor played into the seeking of euthanasia, and understandably so. He talks by personal experience witnessing terminally ill patients living a life of no dignity and pride while continuously piling on medical bills and from what he has seen itr’s absolutely demoralizing to people and their families. (Quill 63) What Doctor Quill is insisting is that why let your family see you suffering and why be a financial burden when death is inevitable sooner than later? So long as the practices are not in secret and are repeatedly pronounced to the patient and family for a formal consent, then therer’s really no justification as to why this practice is harsh or immoral again, this is once all other avenues have been exhausted.
This is unfortunately a harsh reality that some families have to experience when it comes to terminal illnesses however, there is much truth value behind what he is claiming. The practice of physician assisted suicide indeed needs to be a consensual procedure with the patient having the ultimate authority so long as they are mentally competent. I like how Doctor Quill discussed how demoralizing living with a terminal illness is. Where I somewhat disagree with him is when he relates to Doctor Dianne on stressing the importance of exhausting every potential life saving avenue. I would say once diagnosed as terminally ill it is crucial to let the patients and their families demonstrate their own choices and let them decide what they want to do. Even with assistance from insurance treatments can become a financial burden as well as a waste of resources for patients who arent terminally ill.
The last article I researched by Doctor D. Etienne de Villiers was called May Christians Request Medically Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia? This article gives the perspective from an average American Christian as to why the practice is not ethical in accordance to the Bible and traditional American values in general. The general Christian belief system entails that the terminally ill are to live both morally and loyal to god until their death. This, as well has remaining prejudice against the termination of any human life for any reason. (Villiers 1) Another influential ideology as to why Christians are so hesitant when asked about assisted suicide even for the terminally ill is because the Bible promotes absolute prohibition. Doctor Villiers explains this by going on to discuss the Sixth Commandment Thou Shalt Not Kill. Although quite vague, the modern interpretation of the sixth commandment is to value human life as sacred. The journey of life for a Christian, even when terminally ill, is to essentially trust the sustained care and support of God no matter what the circumstances are. (Villiers 4) The main idea here is to put the illness in the hands of God and let it play out the way that it was intended too. In other words, a physician has no place telling a person when their time on Earth is up. It is Godr’s will as to when your time comes. Generally what Doctor Villiers is establishing is that physician assisted suicide is considered blasphemy by the majority of Christianr’s and that needs to be respected by the medical industry when cases are made in favor of the practice.
I truly have mixed emotions on this article. Although I am a practicing Christian, I think itr’s important to note that when someone is diagnosed as terminally ill it can be inferred God has already willed that death will take place for that very person. I feel as though this article was objective at trying to bring about an understanding from the religious perspective on the issue and I think that Doctor de Villiers stayed fairly neutral and within certain boundaries even though she showed religious biases in her argument structure. Biblically speaking, I can agree and understand the notion that the body is somewhat like a temple and is to be taken care of at all times. Where I come to disagree is at what point is the body worth trying to save anymore? If your soul truly is eternal and the body has wasted away to near death then maybe itr’s time to surrender and let your soul move on. This article was backed with Biblical evidence however I feel much of this article was more speculation rather than research. The source proved to be effective in further adding to the notion that we as nation need to appease all sides of the spectrum and witness who displays these antagonistic views and why.
In conclusion, the research that I have performed for this paper has taught me that the majority of the world is unanimously opposed to the notion of physician assisted suicide for reasons tied to religion, ethics, and morality. These multitude of explanations cannot not be ignored and should always be considered when trying to promote such a procedure. Although the opposition create a solid counterargument, the benefits of physician assisted suicide at least to me, outweigh the negatives. For this very reason, my argument remains that so long as the terminally patient within their own mind is psychologically stable and that all other potential life-saving measures have already been instilled, then it should lawfully be within someoner’s rights to take their own life by palliative, physician induced suicide.
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