Criminality is defined as a behavior and/or action that is contrary to or forbidden by criminal law, according to Merriam-Websterr’s Dictionary. Wherein murder is defined as a criminal act due to the intention of killing an individual out of hatred or insanity, assisted suicide performed by a physician is legal in several states and is being contemplated in others. Many have been arguing for years whether-or-not physician-assisted suicide should be legal, however most do not separate the ethical point of the argument from the legal standpoint.
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There are three ways of which assisted suicide is legal in the seven states (as well as the District of Columbia) within the United States; withdrawal of a futile treatment, terminal sedation, and medical aid in dying (Sullivan and Taylor). There is no crime in physician assistance suicide due to the fact that it is a form of euthanasian for humans performed only in cases where the patient is terminally ill, which will save them from wasting money on treatment of death.
For an individual who is given a date of death, the remaining time he or she has left could be a scary time for them. Terminally ill patients often spend the remainder of their days lying in a bed waiting for what is coming, however many do not want their loved ones to see them in suffering. Some cannot necessarily handle the pain that comes along with a terminal illness, such as feeling your bodily organs shut down and the additional treatment needed to support their body until there is simply nothing else to do but terminate the patient. The options of terminal sedation, or euthanasia, and medical aid in dying, such as giving the patient drugs that will sedate then shut down bodily functions, seem like a better fit for their passing as it leaves a better lasting impression for everyone involved.
Another factor that should be considered in discussing physician assisted suicide is the cost difference in caring for a terminally ill patient as opposed to the options for assisted suicide. With there being multiple ways to pursue physician-assisted suicide, each treatment obviously will have a different cost factor. Caring for a terminally ill patient until their last day on average costs $33,500, not taking into consideration the living accommodations and food (How California Could Dramatically Change Assisted Suicide Debate). The withdrawal of futile treatment for a patient would leave their loved ones with only paying for living accommodations and food, which would cost no more than it would to care for an individual who was not ill. Terminal sedation and medical aid in dying will have a cost, however it does not even compare to the cost of caring for a terminally ill patient. Terminal sedation costs roughly $200-$300, depending on the amount needed to euthanize an individual, which is based on their body mass at the given time (How California Could Dramatically Change Assisted Suicide Debate). Medical aid in dying only costs $40 or $50 and it depends on the dosage and what cocktail they are prescribed (How California Could Dramatically Change Assisted Suicide Debate). Clearly, no matter which method of physician-assisted suicide is chosen, it is still significantly cheaper than caring for the patient in their last days.
Ethically, assisted suicide should not be the way to go as one is taking their own life and can be seen as an equivalent of murder in a sense. However, it allows the patient, who is already terminally ill with months left to live, to pass with dignity and leave their family and friends with a lasting memory that they would want them to remember; not a memory of seeing a loved one in pain and obvious that they are on their death bed. The aspect of assisted suicide that can be seen as the grey area between carrying it out and passing on it is the patient and/or doctor may not know if there is some sort of possibility of survival. In todayr’s modern age the advancements of medicine are happening rapidly, and time given may, in some cases, help a terminally ill patient start to rejuvenate back to their sustainable health.
Saying physician-assisted suicide is criminal is like arguing that animals shouldnt be euthanized; we dont want our animals to endure more pain than they need to nor do we want our loved ones enduring that pain. With physician-assisted suicide, one is given the choice to take their life sooner in a humane way. The topic of death is difficult for everyone to discuss; however, it does happen naturally and often times not in the prettiest of ways. As unfortunate as it may be to others, those who are given a date of their death should have the right to deem their death sooner so that their loved ones will not have to see them die a slow painful death and to save everyone involved money in the long run.
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