14 Dec 2012
A Peaceful Death
“Human life consists in mutual service. So grief, pain, misfortune, or "broken heart" is no excuse for cutting off one's life while any power of service remains. But when all usefulness is over, when one is assured of an unavoidable and imminent death, it is the simplest of human rights to choose a quick and easy death in lace of a slow and horrible one (debate.org).” -Charlotte Perkins Gilman (who committed suicide after 6 months with breast cancer) Death is a natural event that every living thing must go through as part of the life cycle. Death has many causes, such as accidents, disease, and old age. Disease is probably the most painful and stressful forms of death, mainly because of the manmade cures and treatments a person goes through to attempt to fight the sickness. As the disease progresses, the pain is progressing as well. Some pain is worse than others, but those with extreme cases may not wish to die an agonizing death. A peaceful death is something that every living creature is entitled to. For example, if someone’s dog is sick and in pain and will not live a comfortable life because of their sickness, the dog is euthanized. It is an interesting fact that an animal can be euthanized, but a conscious, rational human being cannot have the same treatment if they are incapable of ending their own life. Abortion is the termination of an unborn child, who has no choice in the matter, but that is also legal. It is odd that an animal or unborn child that cannot make the choice to end their life can be killed legally, but a person who decides to ask for assistance in ending their own life cannot do so because it is illegal and defies the morals of the majority. However, just the desire to die should not be sufficient to receive a physician’s assisted suicide. A person should be in physical, not mental, pain. Mental pain can be lessened with medications and psychological treatment. Assisted suicide should be a treatment only for an incurable physical pain and only if the patient desires it.
Euthanasia is illegal in all states in the United States. The difference between euthanasia and assisted suicide is that euthanasia is someone else administering the lethal drug. If a doctor were to practice euthanasia on a human being, then that would be considered murder, where in a medical assisted suicide, a patient is given a pill or an injection and has to administer the drug to his or herself. A physician’s assisted suicide is legal in only three states, Washington, Oregon, and Montana (Quill). In order to receive the treatment, a patient has to go through a series of physical and psychological exams, mainly to be sure that the patient is not using depression as a reason to be treated. Many people say that the option should be available, even if they personally do not agree with it, such as the abortion laws. It is available, but if an individual does not agree with it, they do not have to get an abortion. According to Jim Moore, a political science teacher at Pacific University, “This is about access to assisted suicide, not necessarily being personally in favor of assisted suicide (thinkexist.com).”
The controversies over physician’s assisted suicide were first shown in the United States in the early 1900’s (Appel). It was not fully brought to America’s attention until Dr. Jack Kevorkian, a pathologist, was brought to trial over assisting about forty people in their suicide. The government was not in favor of Kevorkian’s practices, so they tried to charge him with a crime. Kevorkian said at his trial: “First of all, do any of you here think it's a crime to help a suffering human end his agony? Any of you think it is? Say so right now. Well, then, what are we doing here?” At the time, there was no law against physician’s assisted suicide, so he was released (Angell). A few years later, Kevorkian was in imprisoned for inducing a...
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