Assisted Suicide

Physician-Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia Should physicians be granted the power to intentionally end the lives of their patients? Recent proposals to legalize physician-assisted suicide have raised this question and triggered intense legal, medical and social debate. For some individuals, the debate is fueled by their fear that medical technology may someday keep them alive past the time of natural death. However, this concern is unfounded for mentally competent adults who have a legal right to refuse or stop any medical treatment.

It is also important to recognize that today’s health care climate lends itself more to undertreatment than overtreatment.However, the present debate is not about refusing treatment or taking extraordinary measures. The issue is whether physicians should be allowed to intentionally kill their patients, either by providing the means of death or ending the patient’s life by the doctor’s hands. There is a tremendous distinction between allowing someone to die naturally when medical technology cannot stop the dying process and causing someone to die through assisted suicide or euthanasia.

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The question is one of intent: Is the intention to cause the death of the patient?The terms “physician-assisted suicide” and “euthanasia” are often used interchangeably. However, the distinctions are significant. The act of physician-assisted suicide involves a medical doctor who provides a patient the means to kill him or herself, usually by an overdose of prescription medication.

Meanwhile, euthanasia involves the intentional killing of a patient by the direct intervention of a physician or another party, ostensibly for the good of the patient or others. The most common form of euthanasia is lethal injection. Euthanasia can be voluntary (at the patient’s request), nonvoluntary (without the knowledge or consent of the patient) or involuntary (against his or her wishes).

Assisted Suicide

Assisted Suicide It is upsetting and depressing living life in the shadow of death. Many questions appear on this debatable topic, such as should we legalize euthanasia? What is euthanasia? What is assisted suicide? What is the difference between Passive and Active Euthanasia? What is Voluntary, Non-voluntary and Involuntary Euthanasia? What is Mercy Killing? What is Death with dignity? But if euthanasia was legalized, wouldn’t patients then die peacefully rather than using plastic bags or other methods? And unfortunately the list continues. No one denies that there are many vulnerable persons who require the protection of the law. Take, for example, those in a temporary state of clinical depression, perhaps caused by a traumatic event in their lives. These persons will recover and go on to lead productive, happy lives, and it would be unconscionable to encourage or support them in a transitory wish to die.There are also many unemployed and unemployable, many disabled of all ages, and many senior citizens whose families might, for selfish or downright malicious reasons, encourage them to seek assisted suicide.

All kinds of people in difficult situations could be at risk of being intimidated or forced into feeling their early death would be a convenience to society. Section 241 is doubly flawed. It is not an especially effective drawback against those who seek to prey on the vulnerable, but at the same time it forces persons enduring intolerable suffering to exist in that state against their own wishes, thus denying them their right of self-determination as citizens in a free democracy. Competent, rational human beings must have the right to determine their own health care according to their personal wishes, values and beliefs, as long as such a determination does not jeopardize the safety or well-being of any other person.We do not believe, for instance, that people have the right to kill themselves by driving recklessly and in so doing jeopardize the safety of others.

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To kill oneself by causing an explosion that will inevitably put others at risk is horror. It is also reproachable to end one’s own life without regard to the trauma it might inflict on the vulnerable. People shall never forget the horror suffered by two young children who arrived home after school to find their mother hanging from the hall chandelier, or by a teen-age boy who found his father with his head blown apart from a self-inflicted shotgun wound in the kitchen of their home. We also need to consider the anguish of family members, friends and even health-care professionals who must continue to witness, day after day, the suffering of people they love and wish to help.If a remedy for such suffering does not exist within the law, people will have recourse to the unwritten law of simple justice.

Proponents of euthanasia argue that mercy-killing is necessary because patients particularly those with terminal illness, experience uncontrollable pain. They argue that the only way to alleviate the pain is to eliminate the patient. But is there a better way? In the last few years a number of court cases have shown the quandary the legal system is in about this issue. In a recent presentation to the Supreme Court, Dying With Dignity outlined some of these problems.Developments in the medical sciences and in the protection of human dignity have created expectations in Canadians that they will be able to exercise greater control over fundamental issues respecting personal autonomy and human dignity, bodily integrity and issues of life and death.

.. The advances in medical science, and in particular the capacity of medical science to intervene in the natural cycle of life and death, have led also to a re-examination of many fundamental issues, including the protection Canadian society should accord to the values of sanctity of life. Of particular importance.. is the circumstances under which a person may determine the manner and time of his or her own death. The Case of Sue Rodriguez Canada’s most important (to date) dramatic and high-profile court case with respect to the issue of physician-assisted suicide took place in 1992-93. Sue Rodriguez, a young woman aged forty when she was first diagnosed with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease) is an intelligent, aware person.

She had done her research and knew full well the death that was in store for her. Mrs. Rodriguez, mother of a small child, knew that the disease would gradually rob her of the ability to walk, move her body at will, eat and finally breathe without mechanical assistance.

Her mind would remain alert, however, trapped in the shell of her body. Sue Rodriguez did not find dignity in such a life and wished instead to circumvent such an end by requesting physician-assisted suicide at a time and in a manner of her own choosing.She determined that she would like to activate a machine that would facilitate her death, but would also like to have a physician present, in case, through some unpredictable eventuality, something went awry and she needed further aid in dying. Christopher M. Considine, lawyer for Mrs. Rodriguez, took her case to a lower court, to the Supreme Court of British Columbia, which denied her request, and then to the B.

C. Court of Appeal. In the judgment on appeal from the Court of Appeal, the decision was lost by a vote of two to one.Justice McEachern in his dissenting opinion, based mostly on arguments relating to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms presented by Mrs. Rodriguez’s counsel, outlined a set of guidelines by which he felt Mrs. Rodriguez could be granted her wish.

The matter then proceeded with unusual speed to the Supreme Court of Canada. On May 20, 1993, the Supreme Court of Canada heard the Appeal of Sue Rodriguez v.Attorney General of British Columbia and Attorney General of Canada. This is just one case of thousands upon thousands of people who seek help and the only way which they know how to help themselves is by elimination. In closing, we must emphasize that the issue is now out in the open. As the proliferation of media items attests, it will not disappear from the Canadian scene just because it makes some people uncomfortable. Simple humanity demands a resolution to this debate, either in the courts or in legislation.

Assisted Suicide

Assisted Suicide Imagine you have just found out you are going to die within three months. Recently the questions have been changed from, What am I going to do with the rest of my life? to When should I kill myself? With painful and crippling diseases such as AIDS and cancer, and Alzheimers along with doctors such as Dr. Kavorkian, , some people are choosing death over life. Doctor assisted suicide has been a very controversial subject in the past few years. Some states such as Oregon have passed laws which allow doctors to prescribe lethal drugs to patients who have less than six months to live.(Hendin 1) Other states have taken the opposite side. I believe that if you are able to reason and think rationally you should decide whether to live or die.

If not the people who know you best should make the decision. If you are ever in a situation where you know you will soon die the choice whether or not to kill yourself should be your own. I believe that doctor-assisted suicide should not be controlled by the government but should be a personal choice based on the individual. Many people could not imagine living in a hospital bed for the remainder of their lives.They would rather die with dignity then live out the rest of their life dependent on others.

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The government thinks that they know what is best for the people. If everyone is an individual, how can the government know what is best for everyone. If feel that people should make up their own minds about what is best for them. Joshua Haney wrote an article on assisted suicide. He says, Everyday we make choices that decide our fate and future.

We choose where we work, what we eat and drink, etc.This is just one more choice that we are making. If we take away this right from people we are taking steps towards taking away other rights. Would it be morally right to allow that person to suffer in pain in anguish through some terminal illness?( Haney 2) I completely agree with him. What rights will they take away next? One problem people face when they are seriously ill is the lack of money. There always seems to be one more bill waiting to be paid.They need money to buy prescription drugs, pay for the doctors appointments, tests, and in some cases lengthy hospital stays.

Some insurance companies will refuse to pay for certain tests, or drugs, or even refuse treatment altogether. Many patients cant afford to pay for these treatments , and even if they could, most of the treatments only prolong life for a short amount of time. There is also no guarantee that the quality of life during these treatments would be worth the time and money.

No one wants to die in debt and leave their families with nothing but medical bills. If you dont wish to continue living in pain, why should you have to pay for treatment that you dont want.When someone is sick it is hard on the whole family. When someone is dying they not only have to deal with their own pain and suffering, both physically and mentally, but also with the suffering that their friends and family are going through. They might begin to feel like a burden, and may also begin to feel guilty and depressed.

Because of this and many other reasons some may choose to die. I am not saying that suicide is right for everyone, but I do think it should be an option when someone is suffering from a physical disease that has no cure, or hope of a cure in the near future.I feel that it should be a personal decision, based on the wishes of the individual.

The government and countless numbers of protesters should not claim to know what is right for everyone. They say it is inhumane for doctors to assist in suicides, but I have to agree with A. Wilkie Kushner, who writes, We all die. Death is a part of life. Death is inevitable.Why should each of us not have the right to choose when and how we die; and if we are in no position to do so, why should those who know us best not be allowed to help? Why is it considered acceptable for hospital staff to indefinitely postpone death with machines and tubes and potent toxic pharmaceuticals, and not to help people go easily when their time has come? Where is the humanity in all this?(Kushner 3) Philosophy.

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