Death Be Proud Essay, Research Paper
DEATH BE PROUD Almost all of us have experienced some type of sickness in our lives. The most memorable times were the ones that brought lasting pain and discomfort. Sometimes the medication brought undesireable side effects. We thought about nothing else but the state that we were in. All we wanted was to let this time pass soon, mumbling that we wanted to die. Although we may not have truthfully wished for our deaths, we would have done almost anything to have ended our discomfort. Imagine if we were to have that illness for the rest of our lives, getting a thousand times worse each day the doctors offering no lasting treatment. Wouldn t that be a time that we wished that we were really dead? Wouldn t it be tempting to grab the opportunity if physician-assisted suicide was considered an option? Although some of us may not choose death as the answer, there are as many as 75% of the population who would prefer physician-assisted suicide if they were caught in that situation, according to New England Journal of Medicine. We should honor that wish and let assisted-suicide be considered legal. Many people who oppose physician-assisted suicide as an option reason that it is not only considered murder to inject lethal drugs, but it might lead to irrational decisions. The latter statement is a reasonable concern since physicians are not trained to determine the difference between a rational decision and one that is affected by depression or medicinal side effects. At other times the patient may want to die because of financial reasons, or they want to spare their family from seeing them in pain. These are the risks, however, that we are willing to take when we assist the terminally ill in ending their lives. In this case it is considered euthanasia (unplugging life support systems of the terminally ill by their own will), which has already been settled and declared legal in Cruzan v. Missouri (Missouri). In terms of considering assisted suicide as an act of murder, the Ninth Circuit Court concluded that legalizing assisted suicide was appropriate by stating, We see no ethical or constitutionally recognizable difference between a doctor s pulling the plug on a respirator and his prescribing drugs which will permit a terminally ill patient to end his own life. If we are willing to terminate life support systems for the terminally ill patients, why can t we terminate the suffering of a loved one by ending their life if indeed it is by their own choice? In two recent cases, the Vacco v. Quill (New York), and Washington v. Glucksberg (Washington), the High Court decided on the legitimacy of physician-assisted suicide. These cases were tried in separate courts and approached from different viewpoints, yet the same decision was still reached. Judge Stephen Reinhardt, who heard the Glucksberg case, upheld the right to die using the due process precedent of Planned Parenthood v. Casey which legalized the right to an abortion. Reinhardt concluded that the right todie was an inherent right by the due process of law and therefore people could not be deprived of this right by a statute. Judge Roger Miner of the Vacco case took the viewpoint that the right to die is legal on
the basis of equal protection laws. He cited an irrational distinction between terminally ill patients who were on life support and thus could legally have their life ended and terminally ill patients who want their life ended but depend on a doctor s assistance to do so. These cases show that assisted suicide is legitimate and is an inherent right. The main reason assisted suicdie should be considered an option is to relieve the patient from his suffering. But many people argue that if the physician aids in the suicide, he has violated the Hippocratic oath. The oath includes a line that states that the physician in practice must do all that they can in their power to heal the illness. However, physicians are providers of comfort as well as healers of illnesses. So if we view physicians as relievers of discomfort (which is why we see doctors in the first place-to relieve discomfort and heal sicknesses), it is not only a possibility but also an obligation to the patient to aid in suicide if the patient chooses that path. It is also the physician s obligation to provide aid when needed, which includes aid with suicide. If patients are denied the aid, they might wonder in the future if they would ever receive aid at all. Needless to say, the doctor would always offer another or better option. However there seems to be no other or better option except painkilling drugs that would not numb the pain forever. In time the patients bodies would adapt to the drug and they would need a more potent drug. But there is a time when the drugs are not enough to alleviate pain. The fear of abusing the right to assisted suicide is a large concern, but fortunately the courts have limited the use of the death option. A patient can only consider death as an option when he or she is anticipated to have less than six months to live. The Ninth Circuit court, which heard the one of the cases, also concluded that the patient s right to hasten death is especially dependent on the individual s physical condition and based on the belief that his remaining days are an unmitigated torture. One small factor we should consider in making assisted suicide nationally legal is for financial reasons. It was stated in New England Journal of Medicine that the cost of treating a patient for seven days was equivalent to the money for several organ transplants. This shows that there isn t a necessity to prolong a patient s life if he or she only has a few weeks to live. To keep them alive not only means torture for the patient, but it also puts a strain on the community s supplies. Taking a look at three different aspects, physician-assisted suicide should be made legal throughout the United States, not just in several states. Banning assisted suicide not only infringes upon the Fourteenth Amendment, but it also violates a patient s well-being. Being kept alive would only mean torture to a terminally ill patient, nothing else. By ending someone s life of torment, several others could be saved by concentrating the money in other situations. Physicain-assisted suicide is an inherent right that should not be deprived from the citizens. Due to the fact that rights define our citizenship, we must strive to keep the right to die.