Assisted Suicide Essay, Research Paper
Questions concerning the right to end one’s life have long generated storms of controversy. These questions, involving intensely personal views on issues no less profound than the meaning of life and liberty, are unlikely to disappear any time soon. The conservative nature of the medical profession, and the organized opposition of the “right to life” movement, along with disagreement among disabilities rights organizations, perpetuate the controversy. The heat from the debate in turn only intensifies the difficult choices people with end-stage AIDS, and their loved ones, may face when life is overwhelmed by irreversible illness and unrelenting pain. In this essay I am going to discuss what I have learned about assisted suicide, give my opinion on the issue, and back it up with a few approaches I have learned.
When we speak of assisted suicide, there are several definitions to describe it. First of all there is Physician-Assisted suicide. This means that a qualified medical practitioner in fulfilling the wishes of a competent, terminally ill patient to end his/her own life, usually by means of lethal injections. Next there is Euthanasia. This is the act of mercifully ending the life of a hopelessly suffering patient. The difference between the two: during euthanasia, when death itself occurs, it’s carried out by the doctor; in doctor assisted suicides, the patient fulfills the final step of terminating his/her own life. One of the most well known practitioners of Assisted suicide would be Dr. Jack Kevorkian. He uses the method of lethal injection, in which the patient releases the solution into the body. Although assisted suicide is not a common practice in the United States, I have found one place in which it is almost an everyday practice. Switzerland uses a program called EXIT. EXIT is a program in which requests for assisted suicide are processed. The cases are reviewed on an individual basis and are thoroughly investigated for other means of the request. Swiss laws stipulate that persons who assist a suicide do so for humane reasons with no chance for personal gain. The applicant must be at least 18 years of age, a Swiss resident, mentally competent and suffering from intolerable health problems.
He or she must personally apply for the service and convince EXIT that there is no coercion or third party influence involved in the decision. Each suicide is performed with the swallowing of two DramamineQ tablets (which induces a deep sleep), and then is followed up by a lethal dosage of sodium pentobarbitone. After death the proper authorities are notified and a investigation is performed. They only investigate because it is considered an exceptional death. Then everything is taken care of, the funeral, etc.
I guess, in my opinion I would agree with the issue. I think that if a person is severely ill, without cure, and knows that there isn’t much time left anyway, that they have the right to end their own life. Who would want to spend the next few years bed ridden and in constant suffering? The only thing you are accomplishing is costing people, your family members specifically, money, sometimes in large amounts. No health care is cheap, especially if there is no cure. Assisted suicide is a touchy issue. Not everyone has the same opinion about it. Who would? But you have to look at it from both sides to truly understand it. Yes, you are ending the persons suffering, but on the other hand you are also ending their life. What if a miracle cure was discovered only weeks after the procedure? Yes, you are saving the family from expensive treatments in the future that will only prolong the patient’s suffering, but on the other hand there is always that chance of survival and cure. There are just so many possibilities, in the end it comes down to personal preference.
As read in chapter 4 of our textbook, it describes different approaches to reasoning. I have found a couple that I feel will back my opinion on assisted suicide.
First of all there is the Egoism approach. This emphasizes the aim of always acting for perceived self-interest, usually in the long-term, even at the expense of the well being of others. When a person contemplates suicide, they are acting in self-interest. They feel it is the best thing for them to do at the time. They do not care about what the effect will be on their loved ones or friends, all they see is that suicide is a way out of their long-term suffering, and in a way they are right for thinking that. Sometimes we have to let go of the ones we love, even though we do not want them to go, it is in their best interest that they do not suffer. Next there is the Virtue-Ethics approach. This emphasizes the aim of excellence by doing the right thing as a result of focusing on certain character values.
When a person is suffering, all they can think about is ending the pain. At most times that is the only thing on their mind. They focus on their character values and determine whether or not that suicide is the right thing. Sometimes it is and sometimes it isn’t. Do they want the pain to end? Yes, they do. Do they want their family to suffer from overwhelming debt? No, they don’t. Do they want their family to suffer from their loss? No, they don’t. In the end, the patient will determine the right thing to do.
In conclusion I feel that this issue will continue to go on as controversial. There will never be an end to it. But the need for ended suffering will go on. The need for better health care will go on. No matter what happens there will always be someone who will object to the procedure. But when you think about it, which is the most humane? The person saying it is wrong to end a life? Or would it be the person suffering who wants to die in dignity? All in all, it is up to the person to make their own opinion on the situation.
“Doctor assisted suicide – a bad oxymoron and a bad idea”
Stephen R. Katz, M.D. April 27, 1998
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy August 15, 1996
“The Practice of Assisted Suicide in Switzerland”
Professor Meinrad Schaer, M.D. November 7, 1999