Assisted Suicide The Right To Essay, Research Paper
Assisted Suicide, the Right to Die
Though it may be an uncomfortable thing to know, there is something people are being denied. People are denied things everyday, what these people are being denied is uncomprehendable. Terminally ill, suffering people are being denied the right to end their suffering. They are forced to live each day in misery. Now, all these people want is to end their suffering. We could help by legalizing assisted suicide, helping to stop their pain. People have been forced to end their own lives, without proper medical help, some have had to have loved ones do it for them. As a result, they suffered legal consequences. I believe that terminally ill people, suffering major pain and discomfort, should be allowed to make the choice of assisted suicide.
Richard McIlory 71, whom whose suffering from lukiemia had become unbearable, had his wife help him commit suicide by giving him chocolate ice cream sprinkled with seconal tablets (C. Baron 1). Legalizing assisted suicide would prevent tragedies like this one from ever having to occur. Instead of one person suffering, the government makes it two. Sixty-six year old Dietrich Weithnery from Pennsylvania killed his wife Louise. She was suffering from a combination of asthma, congestive heart failure, and diabetes. Walking to his wife s bedside, he was forced to pick up a two-foot
In long oxygen tank and slammed it into her head forcefully enough to kill her. Next, he tried to kill himself by slashing his wrists, but was saved by the paramedics. One and a half years later he was sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole (C. Baron 1).
There is so much information on this topic it is almost overwhelming. Throughout the ages, people have reflected upon the issues of death and dying. With the advent of modern medical technology and the more common usage of artificial measures to prolong life, many people today are more fearful of the process of dying than of death itself (life and death final report 1). Now, if we are advanced enough to prolong life, then why are we letting the people who are terminally ill and suffering not let themselves decide if they want to die? What kind of barbaric custom is this? Then, when someone tries to help these poor suffering people he is called a murderer. I also see this as a violation of basic human rights.
Others think that traditional medical ethics are crumbling before our very eyes. Where physicians once swore to do no harm, today many doctors think it acceptable to kill a patient whom requests death (1). Quoting a writer by the name of Wesley J. Smith. Smith argues that doctors used to be taught that all patients had an equal inherent moral value. This value system known variously as the equality or sanctity of life ethic (1). This ethic thus entitled them optimum medical care based on their individual needs and by simple virtue of their humanity. Today a growing pragmatic spirit threatens elderly and disabled patients with complete abandonment by doctors based on quality of life considerations. Wesley also points out that doctors of yore would never divide their loyalties between patients and managed health care business entities, where profits come from inducing physicians to reduce the levels of care (1).
Well, back in the days of yore, everything that was taught to anyone, professional or not, ethically wise is challenged today. Times change and people change with it. Along with the growth of the human race, society, and technology, creates new environments. It is a known fact that all living things adapt to their environment. They adapt allowing survival. It is an ancient cycle.
In recent, years a number of cases have come to light, attracting a considerable amount of media attention, not just in the United States, either. The most controversial and popular topic, a man accused and convicted of being a murderer, Dr. Jack Kevorkian. Also known as the Dr. of Death, a man who assisted in hundreds of suicides.
When Dr. Kevorkian first started assisting suicides, many people thought he was simply trying to make a point, and that, having done so, he would stop. That was not the case, he just kept going and going. When he assisted four people in one week, it seemed to many people that this was getting out of hand. Yet, we don t want to find him guilty of murder. We do want him or someone like him to be available to us if the need ever came up (Block 1).
The reason for this thinking is that we are afraid of pain. Not the ordinary, bearable pain that we are accustomed to-headaches and backaches, or childbearing.
Dr. Kevorkian got a bum rap from many ununderstanding people. Alain C. Baird writes differently. I think these are all wonderful statements that need to be seen by more people.
He accepts people with little chance at a painless death, and he removes their pain.
He takes people who don t have any meaning left in their lives; a he imbues their life, and their death, with enormous significance.
He stands unwaveringly at the flashpoint of one of the greatest taboos of our culture.
He resoutly advocates a perspective that most of us avoid, and even ridicule, rather than deal with responsibility.
He espouses a concept, which is accepted and legal in other countries, yet he continues to risk jail and severe public censure
Here to assure that euthanasia remains prominent on our society s agenda.
Future generations will likely revere him as a courageous visionary, yet there
are forces at work today that threaten to destroy him.
Perhaps most importantly of all: he has discovered his purpose on this planet. And despite the unpopularity of his calling, he steadfastly continues to follow it.
For all these reasons-God bless you, Dr. Kevorkian. (1)
There is no jury that will convict jack Kevorkian for helping a suffering person to die, so we thought. He got charged with first-degree murder- and convicted.
Legalizing assisted suicide would benefit more than just the patient. Legalizing assisted suicide has cost saving potential. Here are some statistics from Barry Bostrom s review of reflections of Organs first case. The proposal assumes that (1) 2.7 percent of patients who die each year (62,00 Americans) would choose assisted suicide. (2) These patients would forgo an average of four weeks of life, and (3) the medical costs in the last month of life for each patient who dies are ten thousand one hundred and eighteen dollars (in 1995 dollars). The estimated amount from legalizing physician assisted suicide and euthanasia would approximately save six hundred twenty-seven million in 1995 dollars (Bostrom 2). This may be a small national saving, but for many families, especially the ones whom are uninsured, the savings could be substantial.
In a survey taken from 206 doctors, sixty-seven percent indicated that they would participate in the suicide of the depicted patient. The survey also showed that doctors that were more conservative with resources were six point four times more likely than their resource-intensive counterparts to prescribe the requested drugs, and minority doctors were less willing than whites to participate in assisted suicide (Bostrom 2).
The term s voluntary active euthanasia and physician assisted suicide sometimes are used interchangeably, confusing the two practices. Voluntary active euthanasia means a deliberate intervention, by someone other than the person whose life is at stake, directly intended to end that life. The patient must be terminally ill and competent, and make a full voluntary and persistent request in aid for dying. Physician-assisted suicide is when a doctor helps to bring on the patient s death by providing the means to do it or by giving them the necessary means to do it.
We must determine the difference between killing and letting die. In the medical context there are two parts. A doctor s killing her patient is different from a doctor letting her patient die. It creates a great moral difference. A doctor killing her patient is always morally impermissible, whereas a doctor letting her patient die in suitable circumstances is morally permissible (Jarvis 1).
What are suitable circumstances? There are certain standards that have to be met before I feel assisted suicide are permissible. One must not necessarily be terminally ill. If a person is so sick and uncomfortable that they are no longer able to live a normal life, or care for themselves is suitable for assisted suicide. In Webster s dictionary euthinasia is defined as The practice act or practice of killing or permitting the death of the hopelessly sick or injured individual; in a relatively painless way for reasons of mercy . Implemented in this definition is the acknowledgement that under certain circumstances, the intentional termination of the life of one human by another is justifiable and maybe even desirable (Ho 1). Here are some conditions in which euthanasia is considered an appropriate option.
Usually a request for euthanasia or assistance derives from severe patient distress and indicates significant suffering. Suffering comes in a variety of forms, and according to author Robert Ho, Can be defined as an adverse experience characterized by the perception of personal distress that is generated by adverse factors that undermine the quality of life .
Ranking highest in these factors is physical pain. Terminally ill cancer patients were surveyed and they found that one third of such patients in active therapy, and two-thirds of patients with far off disease are suffering from significant pain. These people are suffering so that they require the use of analgesics. The fact that fear of pain is acute among those suffering illnesses is reflected in the acceptance of certain pain control, even if they risk or bring about death. This view is supported in a survey which found that physicians, nurses, hospital tarpaulins, and college students overwhelmingly agreed that it was appropriate to give pain medication to terminal patients even though the dosages given might hasten death (Ho 1).
There are two more situations of suffering I will describe. When the debilitated nature of one s body severely undermines the quality of ones life, it is significant suffering. Such as people who have lost control of all his/her bodily functions, or is confined to bed for the rest of his/her life is surely in a state of persistent suffering. When suffering like this is impossible to relive, it undermines the value one feels on their life.
Suffering is not limited to the physical experience of the patient that has been brought on uncontrollable pain or the debilitated nature of the body. When chronic illness occurs in a family member, it tragically affects everyone else as well. Among the contributing that cause family members suffering are and not limited to; empathetic suffering with the distress of the patient, role changes, as well as the physical, financial, and physiological stresses that arises from the burden of care. Frankly, severe cases of distress and fatigue are not uncommon, mostly due to the fact that professional and family care services are both finite (Ho, Robert 2:Davies, Remier, &Martens).
The fear of enduring unceasing pain, losing body integrity and personal dignity and of being an emotional and financial drain on ones loved ones such fear lends strength to the movement for physician assisted suicide and euthanasia (Gula 1).
Oregon is the first and only state to legalize physician-assisted suicide in 1994. called the Death with Dignity Act, which passed with a forty-nine to fifty-one percent vote.
According to official reports, 40% who died the first year after legalizing assisted suicide in Oregon had been turned down by at least one doctor. Also on average those who were assisted to commit suicide had been known by the doctors who assisted them only about one tenth as long as a group of similarly situated patients who did not commit suicide (Oregon Experience 1). Fifteen terminally ill people had died as a result of the nations only assisted suicide law in the first year since it took effect in 1998(Christian Century March 1). According to officials the law is working the way it should, It s what we expected a year of impeccable implantation, (Christian Century March 2)
I think more people should follow in Organs footsteps. Besides brining peace to the patients themselves, their families are more at ease as well. Legalizing assisted suicide would prevent some unpleasantries. If Dietrich Weitherny had lived in a time when we weren t so insensitive, he would not have had to slam an Oxygen tank into his wife Louises s head and he would not be in jail with Know possibility of parole for life during his golden years. This is inane. We are supposed to be a civilized people.
When desperate family members help patients to die in places besides Oregon, they are forced to resorting to brutal actions that may be based on incompetent knowledge of revelent facts are thrown on the mercy of a court system that produced unpredictable and desperate results. Consider the Nebraska criminal case against seventy-six year old Bob Olrich. His seventy-four year old wife Phyllis, asked for help in dying to release her from the pain she was suffering from colon cancer. He brought a gun in her room and shot her in the head, he also tried to kill himself, but the gun misfired. In New York, forty-two year old Susan Scheufler was arrested and charged with first degree murder for smothering her fifty-two year old terminally ill husband with a pillow on his deathbed in July of nineteen ninety seven. In Maryland, sixty-eight years old William Fishback was arrested in October nineteen ninety-eight for assisting in his mother s suicide. She suffered from legal blindness, limited mobility, enphymasema, and heart disese. On the morning of September seventh, she was found suffocated by a plastic grocery bag over her head (C.Baron 2). Like I mentioned before these kinds of situations can be prevented. It is up to us to make that decision.
Other countries have found enough humanity to legalize assisted suicide, why can t we. The Netherlands has, as well as Switzerland.
All these cases are totally unnecessary, and their suffering can be stopped. We must legalize assisted suicide. People are being thrown in jail for helping their loved one end their suffering. They are being labeled as killers, murders. I believe these people who are terminally ill and suffering have the right to assisted suicide. It must be legalized.
I have shown you horror stories, and presented the other side s point of view.
I think that if people fall under the above-described circumstances, they should have the write to chose physician assisted suicide. Jack Kevorkian now sits in Jail for murder for putting these poor suffering people as well as their families to peace. I see this as a total fall of humanities moral ethics. Try putting yourself in any one of these people s situations and tell me you would not do the same thing.
Baird, Alan C. God Bless You Dr. Jack Kevorkian. June 1998 1
Baron, Charles H, Assisted dying. Trail July 1999 26:4
Block, Maryanne. Dr.Death. The Washington Post 9 Nov. 98
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The Christian Century , Assited-suicide examined in Oregon 116.9 March 17.1999
Gula, Richard M. Euthanasia and Physician -Assisted Suicide: Killing or Caring? Rev of The Christian Century May 15,1999 116:14
Ho, Robert. Factors Influceing Decisions to Terminate Life: Conditions of Suffering and the Identity of the Terminally Ill. Australian Journal of Social Issues 34:1 Feb 99
Smith, Wesley J. Assisted Suicide: The Tip of The Iceberg. The Human Life Review Spring 99 25:2
The Special Senate Committee on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide. Of Life and Death-Final report. June1995
Weithman, Paul J. Of Assisted Suicide and The Philosophers Brief. Ethics April 1999 109:3