Essay, Research Paper
I. Human Right to Die
A. Patient Self Determination Act
1. Basic Component of Human freedome- right to die
2. Right to Decide one’s own destiny at the end of their life (www.rights.org/~deathnet/Humphry_essay.html)
3. Personal Quality of life
· May be decreased by illness
· Physician Assisted Suicide will contribute to the emotional wellness of the individual.
· If a medical conditon is unwanted…the quality of life has been decreased
· Right to make decisions about one’s own medical treatment
1. A person has the right to die with personal dignity
(Issues and Controversies on File; September 1995)
· A personal choice that should be afforded to sick and dying patients
· One should be in Control of their own death
· Physician Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia are means of ending any suffering due to
Illness…that is not curable through medication
· Euthanasia and Physican Assisted Suicide facilitate a death and escape from such situations as being at the mercy of others.
C. Personal Decision
1. The Right to die is a personal and private decision
· The right to die is one of a personal nature
· The right to die is private….every person is entitiled to privacy
· Individuals have the right to die in the manner of their choosing should they be terminal or in uncontrollable pain and suffering.
· Suffering from pain, a person has the right to ask a doctor to end their life for them
· 39% of the population approves of Dr. Jack Kevorkian and his practice
of physician assisted suicide.
· The Government has no right to intervene in a matter as private as one’s own death the government is neither directly or indirectly effected.
· A living will, can legalize euthanasia or physician assisted suicide assuming that it was written while the individual was of sound mind and body.
II. Euthanasia is a Constitutional Right
A. Constitutional Application
1. Banning Euthanasia is a consitutional violation.
· Equal Protection clause of the 14th amendment of the Constitution
“ every natural person has the right to be let alone and free from governmental
intrusion into their private life.” (www.lawlinks.com)
· Equal protection laws can not be denied to any person within a states jurisdiction
· The Ninth Circuit Court has found that the right to control the rime and manner of one’s death is protected under the equal protection clause.
B. Court Cases and Rulings
1. Statutes set by court cases
· Washington State; 1996
“When patients are no longer able to persue liberty or happiness and to not wish to persue life, the terminal patient should have the liberty to choose a dignified death in the manner of their choosing rather than be reduced to unwanted helplessness.
· Janet Reno:
Doctors who prescribe lethal medication to end the life of a terminally ill patient, can not be prosecuted by the law.
- Congress does not have a role in resolving moral and ethical questions such as those regarding Physician Assisted Suicide.
· Florida; 1997
State of Florida v. Charles E. Hall
Outcome: The state of Florida ruled that : Under the states Privacy Provision and the federal governments Equal Protection Clause:
“every person has the right to be let alone and free from governmental intrusion into one’s own private life.”
(CQ Researcher, May 1997)
· Supreme Court has found that there are “protected liberty interests”, in which the state may not infringe…the Ninth Circuit Court found persuasive evidence that the Consitution encompasses a due process liberty in controlling the time and manner of a persons death.
· Arizona; 1995
Diagnosis: Lateral Sclerosis (Lou Gehrigs’s Disease)
Outcome: Fatal; Terminal at all stages
Decision: Nicholas Loving, decided to ask for assistance from Dr. Jack Kevorkian
· Judge Stephen Reinhart of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has deemed that a “dignified” death entails the right to have one’s self killed, based on the Constitutions “due process” clause. Protects Personal liberty and privacy.
· Compassion in Dying v. State of Washington
The Constitution guarantees a “fundamental right” to assisted suicide.
(America; May 1997)
III. Relief of Suffering that Medication can not help
A. Hemlock Society
1. Support Euthanasia and Physician Assisted Suicide.
2. Support Terminally ill patients right to die.
(Issues and Controversies on File; September 1996)
B. Knowledge is Comfort
1. Death can alleviate mental suffering.
2. Knowledge that the option to kill one’s self is there provides mental comfort.
3. Derek Humphry’s Final Exit: written to help people make a decision about their final days or diagnosis.
4. The option of euthanasia puts one’s mind at rest about their prognosis and worsening condition
(Issues on Controversies on File; Nov. 1997)
5. Doctors should make it their own moral obligation to help their patients in whatever way is necessary including physician assisted suicide should that be the desire of the patient.
(Issues and Controversies on File; Nov. !997)
6. If there was always a medication around to treat the pain and suffering, then the patients would not feel the need to resort to any form of suicide.
Since certain illness such as AIDS are not curable and cause undue pain and suffering, they should be allowed to kill themselves instead of suffer from deteriorating health.
7. It is not only physical pain but also mental pain that they seek to eliminate.
Depression being one.
8. The ill persons existance would be so limited that they would no longer be able to live an independent life and there for rely on the help of others and possibly cause undue burden. (www.drdeath.com)
9. Euthanasia is the physical action of a putting someone to a painless death who is suffering tremendously.
10. The quality of life is greatly reduced by terminal illness, therefore these people’s desire to die is for their own mental and physical well being.
11. A person has the right to deny medical treatment, therefore they should have the right to request medical aid in dying
12. A person who is so ill as to be classified as terminal, is highly at risk for cimmiting suicide on their own…euthanasia and physican assisted suicides are a safer means of fulfilling their desire to die.
13. Euthansia is acceptable if the person is of sound mind and body
14. If the person is a legal adult
15. If they are able to freely discuss their options with loved ones and doctors.
IV. Governments Influence
A. Gov’t should have no say in the manner of one’s own death
· The gov’t is not granted any permission to have a say in the private life of an individual especially regarding medical treatment.
· The gov’t does not have the right to dictate whether or not a person wants to end their life in a dignified manner
· A persons decision to die is one of a personal and private matter, and it is not in the hands of legislators.
· A living will can over ride the government in a disputed situation
· The gov’t has to honor the inalienable right to life, liberty and the persuit of happiness, should a person want to die they can not have the gov’t interfere in their persuit of happiness or personal liberty.
· The 14th amendment was created to protect the people and establish basic rights. The founding fathers of the constitution implied the right to die as a liberty
· The liberty and freedom to die is protected by the elastic clause too….
A loose interpretation of the constitution and its meaning should be extended to benefit the terminally ill patients whose quality of life is limited and they are unable to live a productive life in society.
3. Two forms of Euthanasia:
· Passive Euthanasia: To withhold medical treatment from an individual and allow them to die naturally
· Active Euthanasia: Taking Proactive Measures to help a person die using over doses of medications
(Issues and Controversies on File; September; 1995)
4. Legislative Action Nationwide
· Legislatures are currently considering bills to partially legalize euthanasia in the following states:
-NY, MD, ME, NH, VT, CA, OR, WA, CO, NM,WI, MI
V. People Support Euthanasia
A. Support to Help terminal Patients Die (www.rights.org/deathnet/Kfiles_details.html)
· Janet Reno, US Attorney General has said that charges can not be pressed against doctors who assist in suicide of patients who are terminal and wish to go thorough with it.
1. Kevorkian’s Patients
· Lois Hawes
Terminal cancer .. “give me the gas”
· Susan Williams
Multiple Sclerosis: not terminal “I want to die..really in plain english”
2. Public Support
· 58% of Americans approve of Kevorkian’s practice
· Only doctors who have an expertice in administering drugs can end patients lives.
· In Oregon, lethal injections were voted down in the poles
· In Oregon, the polls supported perscription of a drug overdose.
(Nat’l review, 1997)
1. Issues and Controversies on File “Americans Approve of Dr. Kevorkian” September 29, 1995
2. Issues and Controversies on File “Public Opinion On Assisted Suicide” November 21, 1997
3. Issues and Controversies on File “Doctor-Assisted Suicide”
September 29, 1997
4. “Death Wars” National Review v. 49; 1997
8. “Judge Reinhardt’s odd opinion” America v. 176 May 3, 1997
9. Kavanaugh, John F. “A matter of Life and Death” Feb. 15, 1997 America. V. 17
11. http://ccme-mac4.bsd.uchicago.edu/CCMEPolicies/Laws/PSDA “Patient Self Determination Act”