The Choice of Assisted Suicide

There are very few things that we as humans have complete control over. Our bodies should be one of them. Why should a terminally ill patient and their family suffer for a longer period of time when they already made the mental decision that they are over it? There probably isnt one person that can say that they havent watched somebody they love suffer from and ultimately die from some sort of unfortunate disease.

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Assisted suicide is a choice that should be available for patients who are painfully-suffering from an underlying disease. The thoughts of assisted suicide are very mixed. Some people believe that it is a great way to put terminally-ill patients out of the their pain and suffering. They see it as a way for a person to die with dignity after suffering from a painful disease. Others think it is beyond morally wrong for a doctor to intentionally end a patientr’s life. They feel that a doctor should not have unnecessary deaths put on their shoulders the rest of their career. Assisted suicide goes beyond the beliefs of medicine when arguing that it should heal and protect. But shouldnt doctors also help with the pain of the patient?

Assisted suicide has been around since the 17th century, when Francis Bacon used, euthanasia, as a way for painless death. In the United States, the first legal cases of this procedure were in Oregon. On October 27, 1997 the state of Oregon passed The Death With Dignity Act. This act made it legal for terminally ill patients to legally end their life to stop their constant suffering. The next year after the act was passed, a total of 23 people in that state were prescribed the lethal dose of medicine to be assisted in their death. For the two decades that this act has been in place, around 1,300 patients in Oregon have peacefully passed with the help of assisted suicide.

There are five types of assisted death. The first type is active euthanasia, it is death brought upon by a specific act. This means purposefully giving the patient an overdose of lethal medicine. This can be a doctor prescribing a patient more painkillers to make them fall into organ failure, then the failure of their organs will cause their death. Passive euthanasia is when death is omitted. Such as- holding their treatment, turning off a life support machine, choosing to not carry out with a surgery to extend their life, and stopping their feeding tube. Non-voluntary euthanasia is when the patient is unconscious or physically can not make the decision on their own. Just think of a newborn baby, they were just born and has been diagnosed with a fast-spreading cancer and has an estimated time of one month to stay alive. The baby physically can not speak their opinion on how they would like to go about the situation, so someone else will have to make the decision based on the best interest of the baby. Involuntary euthanasia occurs when the patient chooses life but is killed anyways for the benefit of the patientr’s situation. This is where the argument of murder comes into play and makes people believe that ill patients are just killed off without their consent. Indirect euthanasia is giving the patient treatment to speed up their death. Finally there is assisted suicide, where the patient is going to kill themselves but they need help getting the drugs in their reach. This is as simple as moving the pills to their bedside or injecting the medicine in their IV.

There are specific requirements that are needed to be eligible for these procedures depending on your situation. You must be diagnosed terminally ill and given a short amount of time left to live by at least two different physicians. You must be able to physically take the medicine on your own. This means taking the pills and swallowing it or flipping the switch on the IV. The two drugs offered for physician assisted suicide are secobarbital and pentobarbital. Secobarbital is the most commonly prescribed of the two forms. The medication typically come in nine grams of secobarbital in capsules or ten grams of pentobarbital liquid. You have to live in one of the states with a law passed that makes assisted suicide legal. You are allowed to move to one of the seven states where there is a law in place, you only need a proof of residence to show your doctor for the prescription. But since moving is very tiring for a terminally ill patient and most people do not want the hassle of moving their entire life to a different state, just to die when they get there. There is a question about the right to be assisted in the committing of suicide, a right that implies a duty for someone else. There are also questions about whether a physician is the person who should assist, whether all physicians should be required to assist, and in what ways a physician should assist.

Many doctors take many different stances on this issue. Some believe that a doctorr’s duty to save life should outweigh other duties. Before you finish medical school, some schools make you pledge to the The Hippocratic Oath. The oath states that a doctor should keep their patients from harm and come for the benefit of the sick. It also states that a doctor should never give a deadly drug, even if they have asked for it. This brings the issue that doctors have to go against their morals and prescribe a high dose of medicine to kill on purpose. Many argue that doctors should not be playing the role of God, that they should not have the power to decide who should and shouldnt live. But this practice is mostly based on consent of the patient, therefore nothing would happen to the patient if they did not make the choice to do so. On the other hand, some doctors believe that part of their job is to help their patients die better. Meaning they should help relieve the suffering that the patient is going though. Sometimes, the only way to make that happen for the patient is to help them end their life.

The United States does not have law forcing doctors to participate in this procedure. But in the Cruzan v. Director, Missouri Dept. of Health case, in 1990, the court decided that severely injured patients have a constitutional right to refuse medical treatment and die. In the seven states that physician assisted suicide is legal, the doctors who are morally okay with participating may do so, but it is not required. In Oregon, the amount of doctors who agree with the idea of assisted suicide raised from forty-six percent to fifty-seven in 2014. Dr. Stewart Younger says that, people are getting used to the idea that death is the least worst alternative, meaning that death is not the worst thing that can happen to a person. They believe that the constant-excruciating pain and suffering is the worst thing that a patient can go through. Lauren Bacall once said, A manr’s illness is his private territory and, no matter how much he loves you and how close you are, you stay an outsider. You are healthy. This shows the point that no one knows exactly what someone with an incurable illness is going through. We are not that person. Therefore, who gets the right to say that their pain is irrelevant. If a person has the right to live then a person should have the right to choose to die on his own terms. The general publicr’s belief is that, doctors have professional obligations to save the lives of their patients regardless of their health status- to fight until the end. But if the patient has reached their limit, doctors should not have to keep pushing for their fight. The opposing view thinks that, healthcare workers involvement in the euthanasia practice is a betrayal.

Each individual should have a private death. The law does not tell us how to live our personal lives as long as we live lawful. Death should not be any different from any of the other choices that we are allowed to make. When we are ready to face death, whether it is our own or that of a family member, it should be personal. It should be left up to us and our loved ones. People want to be remembered as strong and confident when they pass away. It is most important when thinking of the memories of the young family members that the patient might leave behind when they decide to go. These patients want to make the impression that they died with their dignity and that they won the fight with their illness. Instead of the illness completely taking over their life and causing them un-bearable pain.

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