Physician-Assisted Suicide: Desperate Times Call for Desperate Measures Death, while a reality for all people, is still a frightening and unknown experience. That is one of the reasons that physician-assisted suicide is such a complex topic. However, when one is faced with the prospect of witnessing the suffering of a terminally ill loved one and watching them experience unbearable pain, despite the known fact that they will never again be healthy, the issue becomes less complex. Whether an actual experience or an imagined one, it is one of the worst situations an individual can endure. If offered the possibility to end the suffering and relieve the patient or loved one from pain, would you be supportive or would you leave them to suffer? Physician-assisted suicide could be the answer for the select few patients who meet strict requirements and who are in need of relief. Physician-assisted suicide refers to a practice in which a physician provides a competent, terminally ill patient with a prescription for a lethal dose of medication, upon the patient's request, which the patient intends to use to end his or her own life. (Black) Here is where the controversy arises: should terminally ill patients have the right to choose when to end their lives? Due to the facts that physician-assisted suicide can be constructed to have reasonable laws that ensure it will not be abused and protect the value of human life, relieve suffering patients, and allow citizens in need to exercise their fundamental freedoms to the right of death, physician-assisted suicide should be a legal practice in the United States.
It seems to be an obvious decision on the emotional level, but on the legal and moral level, the controversy is not so simple. The act of physician-assisted suicide is illegal in the United States, with the exception of the states of Oregon, Montana and Washington. Although legal, many strict requirements must be met in order for physician-assisted suicide to be carried out legally. Most importantly, the patient must be of sound mind when requesting assisted suicide, as confirmed by a doctor and other witnesses. Also, the patient must actually be diagnosed with a terminal illness. Although only three states have legalized the process, many other attempts have been made. Physician- assisted suicide first took root as a growing movement in the early 1990s. In 1992, the group Californians against Human Suffering proposed Proposition 161. This proposition was crafted to allow patients with less than six months to live the right to receive assistance from physicians in dying. This measure failed to pass with only 46 percent of the vote. Several New York cases have also been filed claiming that the anti-assisted suicide statue was a violation of equal protection and liberty guarantees of the Fourteenth Amendment. These cases were all appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. (Marker)
Not only should physician-assisted suicide be legalized because reasonable laws can be constructed, but it could also relieve many terminally ill patients of ongoing pain. It is the humane to allow patients the right to stop suffering. Numerous ailments, such as most cancers, result in a slow agonizing death that cannot be stopped. The trauma of a slow agonizing death does not only take a toll on one’s health, but it also has major psychological effects. Knowing that you were enduring mass amounts of pain only to die would make it very difficult to keep a positive attitude and mindset. There are no benefits in suffering if its known that the pain is only going to get worse and death will be the end result. This particular mindset is what usually drives one to thoughts of suicide. A suicide without the assistance of a physician would be very messy and traumatic but can be prevented with physician-assisted suicide. (Fass) Doctors are experienced enough and are capable of knowing when a patient’s days are numbered, so it should be legal for...
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