Should a person with a terminal illness be allowed to die with dignity, taking their own life with the help of a medical doctor? Many people believe that physicians should maintain a person’s life as long as possible. Dying patients and their doctors have the right to choose to discontinue any treatment that serves no purpose except to delay an inevitable death. Euthanasia is intentionally ending a life to relieve pain and suffering. According to Carrie Snyder, “As of 2011, active euthanasia is only legal in three countries: the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. Assisted suicide is legal in Switzerland and in the US states of Washington, Oregon and Montana (Snyder)”. Physicians should be allowed to help terminally ill patients end their lives to stop suffering and the prolonging of their death.
Euthanasia has been a historical occurrence since Ancient Greek and Roman times (Westendorf). Inactive euthanasia consists of cutting off life support or also ending treatments needed to survive like blood transfusions. Active euthanasia defined is deliberately ending life. A physician overseeing a fatal amount of medication would be the prime example. Physician assisted suicide is a type of active euthanasia where the patient ends his life with medication prescribed to him by his physician. Measure 16 of 1994 established the U.S. state of Oregon's Death with Dignity Act, which legalizes physician-assisted suicide with particular limitations. The passage of the act made Oregon the first U.S. state to grant terminally ill patients the decision to terminate their life. Approved in a November 8, 1994 election with 627,980 votes were in favor while 596,018 votes were against the act (King). By law, a person, 18 years of age or older who has been diagnosed by a licensed physician with a fatal illness and prognosis of six months or less may submit a written request for a prescription that will provide a fatal dosage to end their life. The Death with Dignity Act is voluntary and patients must first inquire about the option. All heath care professionals involved who opposes assisted suicide has the right to deny the patient of their request.
The request must be verified by two witnesses, one who is not employed in the health care field and the other who doesn’t have any relation to the patient. After a patient submits their request the next step is having another doctor confirm the diagnosis. A patient can’t quest assistance in suicide if they are mentally ill or depressed. Physicians are protected from liability for writing lethal prescriptions as long as the adult who requested it is in compliance with the law.
People use religious beliefs and customs to deal with death, setting it apart from the natural world (Fulton). Mourning and funeral practices have given people a better way to deal with all the emotions of losing a loved one. In today’s world more and more people look at death as a natural process, while others are still afraid and do the best they can to avoid it by defeating death through medical means and scientific discoveries. When you are dying from an illness such as aids, cancer, heart failure or liver disease, ending your life painlessly with assistance from a physician is a dignified and easy way to die. While in this hard place of dying slowly, choosing to make the decision whether or not to commit suicide is an important and hard one to make.
Physician assisted suicide allows for vital organs to be saved while also allowing nurses and doctors to have more time to save the lives of others. Here in America, we have long waiting lists for organs such as hearts and livers needed to save lives of people who can be saved. Unfortunately, if illnesses are allowed to continue shutting down a body, the organs may become too weak or die.
Families and friends can feel hurt and deceived when their loved one decides to take their lives. But when a person is dying of terminal illness or...