Assisted suicide is a highly controversial topic. Assisted suicide is when, upon request, a doctor prescribes a lethal dose of medication to a terminally ill patient so that the patient can kill him or herself. In other words, a doctor provides the means for a patient to commit suicide. A form of assisted suicide is euthanasia. Euthanasia is when the doctor intentionally kills the patient with the intentions of ending the patient’s suffering; mercy killing. Although there have been many Supreme Court rulings on assisted suicide and the practice of euthanasia, it is legal in some states like Oregon and Washington. The practice of assisted suicide is done under the term “terminally ill.” There is no concrete interpretation of the phrase. Therefore, the phrase terminally ill can be interrupted according to which ever definition works best for us. Assisted suicide also causes mistrust between patients and doctors, unnecessary deaths, and involuntary suicide. Assisted suicide has a profound affect on family relationships, doctor-patient relationships, and ethical standards because of the mistrust it creates and the controversy over the issue. Assisted suicide and the use of euthanasia should be outlawed everywhere in the United States, not just in some states. Because euthanasia is a form of assisted suicide, I will, for the purpose of this paper, address the terms “assisted suicide” and “euthanasia” as one practice.
The most important argument for banning assisted suicide may be that of misdiagnoses. In a 2006 New York Times article, journalist David Leonhardt said that “Studies of autopsies have shown that doctors seriously misdiagnose fatal illnesses about 20 percent of the time” (Leonhardt). Harvard hematologist Jerome Groopman found that “80% of medical mistakes are the result of predictable mental traps, or cognitive errors… [While] only 20% are due to technical mishaps” (Gorman). In other words, 80% of medical errors are due... [continues]
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