Death with Dignity

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Death with Dignity, Is it possible?
Nora BlakeBohecker College- Westerville
English 241

Abstract

Death with dignity, is it possible?
It is a common belief that people should take control of their lives, therefore, should be also allowed to take control of our death? Can one have quality of life while dying? Who determines if we shall live or die and under what circumstances? Is the doctor’s only duty to keep you alive at all cost, or is it also assisting you in a death with dignity? Death with Dignity, Is it possible?

It is a common belief that people should take control of their lives. Therefore, should we also be allowed to take control of our death? “Strong family ties and powerful religious beliefs enforce conformity and discourage diversity and change. But modernization promotes a more rational scientific view that encourages diverse beliefs and behaviors” (J. Macionis, 2005). “Can one have quality of life while dying? If you asked the general population, many would certainly say no. Many fear that their dying will be marred by pain, suffering, and a limited quality of life” (Cohen, 1995). “The guiding principle at the heart of the palliative care intervention is the notion of quality of life” (Cohen, 1995). But when does death occur? Typically, one would say when the heart stops beating, or any health care worker will say ‘when vital signs no longer can be obtained’. However, ask a terminally ill patient when death occurs, and the answer might be “when my quality of life ended” (patient A, personal communication, April 27, 2008). Quality of life or Quantity of life, do we have the right to choose? A person who is in a vegetative state, are they living or do they just exist? Is it quality or quantity? People with incurable, debilitating diseases, suffering from great pain.... Again, is it quality or quantity? Who decides whether a life is worth saving or not? Many people say they would rather die than suffer in great pain, or to be suspended in a vegetative state. Should people have the right to decide when and how they will die? Should others, such as their families, doctors, the government, be able to decide for them? Is there a right to die with dignity? All people with incurable diseases have the right to refuse treatment that might prolong their lives. Yet, they are unable to enlist the services of a doctor to bring about a quick death, even when circumstances such as suffering from excruciating pain, being bedridden, or sustained on life support, make death preferable to life. Even though the first duty of doctors and health care workers is to protect the patient’s life, empathy is also necessary. A doctor must take into consideration the patient’s illness, symptoms, physical and social environment, as well as their quality of life, or lack of. Let us consider Doctors themselves. Doctors go to school primarily to learn how to save lives. However, it also makes them especially good at ending their own. “An estimated 300 to 400 U.S. doctors kill themselves each year” “And when the pain is too much, doctors have easy access to prescription drugs and a precise knowledge of both how the body works and the amount of a drug needed for an overdose to stop breathing and halt the heart” (American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, 2008). One could conclude then, even doctors who are trained to save lives, consider the quality of their lives over the quantity of years alive. Dying, for most Americans, has become far more complicated then it once was. A century ago, most people who suffered from incurable diseases or acute illness would of died much sooner. However, with today’s modern medicine and technology, doctors are able to sustain life for a longer, undetermined length of time. This has created choices for the dying patient and their families. Those choices raise basic...
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