If someone wanted to end their life should they be allowed to do so with the aid of a doctor? Would those with depression be allowed to end their life? If a person is in so much pain that nothing will relieve it, should they be given the means to end it? In Oregon, which had the Death with Dignity Act since 1997, people with terminal illnesses can get lethal prescriptions from their doctors to take their own lives. In the first seventeen years, five out of six people were denied the prescription. The one out of six that did get the pills; 752 people ended their lives and the other 400 people never took the pills. These numbers dont answer the questions, nor do they explain the situation these people found themselves in. Assisted suicide is a complex question discussed by many different people of all kinds of beliefs; not only a moral issue but also a logical and practical issue.
Peter Singer and Andrew Solomon are two of the more outspoken people that are in support of legalizing assisted suicide. Peter Singer is a professor of bioethics at Princeton University and the author of the books The Most Good You Can Do, Animal Liberation, The Life You Can Save, and Practical Ethics. Andrew Solomon is a professor of clinical psychology at Columbia University and the author of the books Far from the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity, Far and Away: Reporting from the Blink of Change, and The Noonday Demon. Peter argues that the perception of death is not always negative and instead could be positive depending on the circumstances. There are circumstances in which the person who is considering death wants to die. That is their autonomous choice. So, death is not a violation of their autonomy, or contrary to their strongest wishes. Peter also argues There are cases in which a person has no more valuable life to look forward to, valuable by their judgment, not valuable by somebody else’s judgment imposing on them the idea that their life is still worthwhile.
Andrew argues giving someone the choice of death would allow them to take control back of their life; Because much of modern medicine prolongs not living but dying, we need to rethink death itself. Making someone die in a way that others approve, but that he feels is anathema, is an odious form of tyranny. Ilora Finlay and Daniel Sulmasy are of the more outspoken of those against legalizing assisted suicide. Ilora Finlay is a member of the House of Lords, a palliative care physician, and is the president of the British Medical Association. Daniel Sulmasy is a professor of medicine and ethics at the University of Chicago and is a member of the presidential committee on the study of bioethical problems. Ilora argues that legalizing assisted suicide sends a message of despair and hopelessness, They send a message. And the message they send is that if you’re terminally ill, ending your life is something that you probably ought to think about.
Ilora also argues that it may not properly protect mentally ill patients, How do you assess capacity commensurate with the biggest decision that you could take; that to end your life? Only 6 percent of Oregon’s psychiatrists feel confident to do it. Daniel argues assisted suicide is bad ethical reasoning, bad medicine, bad policy, and is a slippery slope into euthanasia, These all follow logically from arguing for assisted suicide on the basis of maximizing our individual interests. So, if you don’t believe in euthanizing severely disabled children or the demented, you might want to rethink your support for assisted suicide, at least if you want to be consistent. Daniel also argues assisted suicide would make us value human life less, Assisted suicide and euthanasia require us to accept that it is morally permissible to act with the specific intention of making a somebody into a nobody, to make them dead. Intentions, not just outcomes, matter in ethics. Daniel also argues against assisted suicide because it would affirm the thought of being a burden for themselves and others that many terminally patients think.
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