The United States, a place where freedom runs through the blood of its citizens and where we all have the ability to make choices without interference. We fight to protect these liberties and right to personal freedom given to us by the constitution. The United States government allows it citizens to make choices everyday about one’s own life in hopes we all make good utilitarian like decisions. Citizens make choices every day such as where we want to live, what type of job we want, and if we want to reproduce. Considering how detailed laws have become and the amount of freedom we are given, there is one topic that tends to stir up controversy and government interaction and that is physician assisted suicide. When someone asks this of a doctor, they clearly have a reason for wanting to end their life and no person or government should have the opportunity to take that right away from them. Physician assisted suicide, like most other choices we make, should be legal in the United States.
Assisted suicide is a very touchy and deep topic talked about among not only Americans but internationally as well. There are many good reasons as to why this process should be legal in the United States. One argument for physician assisted suicide is that a large majority of citizens agree that physician assisted suicide is a personal choice and that we should have the right to choose what we do with our own bodies. 'More than 68 percent of Americans believe there are situations when a patient should be allowed to die. Currently, Oregon, Montana, and Washington have endorsed doctor assisted deaths.
Oregon’s law took effect in 1998 and over 292 people died under this law in the first year. The law allows terminally ill adults to take life-ending drugs prescribed by a physician provided the patient is still mentally competent” (Associated Press, 2007). These states validated and furthered the argument that we have the right under certain conditions to choose when we die. With the few states allowing the practice, many terminally ill patients consider relocating themselves just to be able to end their suffering. A great example of why physician assisted suicide should be legal is Matthew Donnelly, “Matthew Donnelly had conducted research on the use of X-rays.
Now, skin cancer riddled his tortured body. He had lost his nose, his left hand, two fingers on his right hand, and part of his jaw. He was left blind and was slowly deteriorating. The pain was unrelenting. Doctors estimated that he had a year to live. Lying in bed with teeth clenched from the excruciating pain, he pleaded to be put out of his misery. Matthew wanted to die now. His pleas went unanswered. Then, one day, Matthew's brother, Harold removed a .30 caliber pistol from his dresser drawer, walked to the hospital, and shot and killed his brother. Harold was tried for murder” Andre and Velasquez (2010).
Matthew is a prime example of suffering and how the government prolonged his pain rather than allowing him to go in peace because no doctor could legally assist his death. This is only one example of many that shows justification for the right to die. Harold tried to end his brothers suffering but also could have caused more suffering to Matthew if he had not died, therefore medical professionals need to be able to assist such patients. When terminally ill patients feel as if they can no longer bear the burden of suffering, they deserve the right to go when they choose, with dignity and self-respect. Even with modern medicines life prolonging ability, forcing someone to suffer should never be left to the government.
Public opinion differs greatly on the topic of physician assisted suicide, but an argument against it, is that doctors take a oath to preserve life. 'Physician assisted suicide is fundamentally incompatible with the physician’s role as healer, would be difficult or impossible to control, and would pose serious societal risks. Instead of participating in assisted suicide, physicians must aggressively respond to the needs of patients at the end of life' (St. Clair 2009). Many valid reasons exist as to why doctors shouldn’t facilitate suicide. Legalizing assisted suicide may also lead to some patients who never considered it before to end their life early. Also, doctors could resort to suicide rather than finding a better alternate solution or cure. “In Oregon, medical systems are already offering people assisted suicide in lieu of chemotherapy. Cancer victim Randy Stroup got a letter from the state saying it would pay for his assisted suicide or painless death, but not his chemotherapy” (Fox News 2008). The best physicians have compassion for their patients and a passion for their profession, and some may say that killing regardless of circumstance is cruel. Human life is to be held at the highest priority and assisting a patient in suicide goes much against the Hippocratic oath doctors swear to uphold. Physicians only focus is to preserve one’s life to the fullest extent.
To put this topic into a different perspective, pets are humanely euthanized when a veterinarian feels as if that’s the best choice for the animal and no more can be done to help or prolong its life comfortably. Pets are considered family to most animal lovers, and this process of euthanizing them with the help of a vet is completely legal. Factors considered when deciding to euthanize a pet are quality of life, pain assessment and insight (Nelson & Zito, 2006). This can be related to someone with an ill family member who must watch them suffer day in and day out. Like pets, doctors should consider the same criteria to determine if physician assisted suicide to be the best option for a patient. In a society where animals can be relived of suffering by euthanasia, the same should hold true for human life.
Killing is viewed by most as harsh, but forcing someone who’s in great pain and terminally ill to suffer through the life is even worse. Family’s are currently allowed to remove a loved one off of life support if specific conditions are met, ultimately leading to the patient’s demise. Determining quality of life plays a role in both scenarios so what makes physician assisted suicide any different form “pulling the plug”? Patients who are terminal are normally given medication that’s so strong they can render one unconscious, most can agree that’s not living a quality life. Suffering patients and their loved ones must decide on what type of life is worth living, this is a personal dilemma for the patient, not congress.
Physician assisted suicide draws lots of attention to the idea that we have the right to determine our own fate. This topic is extremely important because it exposes how people see the value of one’s life. There is a lot of discussion on this topic and if physician assisted suicide and the morality tied to it. With proper care and diligence and terminally ill person who is suffering and no longer wishes to continue the suffering should have every right to end their own life in a safe manner that isn’t a threat to anyone else. While some feel as if this devalues human life, think for a second if you were in Matthew or Randy’s shoes, would you still feel the same?
The government has every obligation to look out for the best interest of all and to introduce laws and litigation to make life better, but to what extent should the government be allowed to step in and have a say about what we do with people who would rather die peacefully than to suffer for the rest of their lives. No law exists where a patient is required to stay on life support but still a suffering, dying patient who consciously chooses to end their life doesn’t have the same right. We allow veterinarians to put down ill animals to alleviate their suffering so why should we not allow people to make the same choices for themselves.
Allowing someone to die how and when they choose is a far better option than to force them to stay alive and suffer until their demise. There are thousands of patients with life threatening conditions or diseases that are suffering everyday and if they choose to end their own life a physician should have every legal backing in order to do so. Physician assisted suicide should be legalized.
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