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Assisted Suicide

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Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia
The issue we are discussing in this paper is Assisted Suicide. The basic conflict is when a person who is sick or suffering rationally decides to end their life- should they be allowed to? Particularly through the help of a physician (Weir, 3). Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia, though similar, have a small difference. Assisted suicide is when the physician listens to the patient’s wishes and provides them with the information needed to commit suicide painlessly. Euthanasia, however, is when the doctor actually performs the act of putting their patient to death. Though they are different the two phrases tend to be interchangeable because the arguments for and against legalizing it are so similar. If you are against one you are generally against the other (Personal).
In 1997 the US Supreme Court ruled in a unanimous decision that Americans have no constitutional right to physician assisted suicides. It also ruled that the constitution permits states individually to pass a law allowing assisted suicide. Because of this ruling the decision falls to a state by state basis (Should Euthanasia). Oregon is the first (and so far the only) state to allow this. This Court ruling, however, has been applied to the general public, and not to specific cases. The original case, brought on by six patients in extreme pain, wanted access to physician assisted suicide. Because they had all died before it was finished the court has yet to determine whether terminally ill patients could obtain this right (PHYSICIAN).
The question of the legality of Euthanasia generally affects the developed countries of the world. The countries that are advanced enough in medicine to have the problem of deciding when they want to die, not if they have to. Assisted suicide laws throughout the world are very distinct in some places but very unclear – if they exist at all – other places. Just because a country has not specified it as illegal does not mean the assisters of suicide will go free. Some countries, such as Scotland, have never made the act of suicide illegal in the first place. When this happens euthanasia is simply considered homicide, and therefore against the law. In such cases the consent of the victim is irrelevant to the punishment received. There are only four places in the world that euthanasia is openly and legally allowed: Oregon, since 1997; Switzerland, since 1941; Belgium, since 2002; and the Netherlands, since 1984. In these cases doctors must be involved and often times a psychiatrist to ensure the patient is mentally stable to constitute the act as consensual assisted suicide (Assisted Suicide).
Because this world issue is one that has two sides the organizations that are "helping" can vary depending on your opinion. The American Disabled for Attendant Programs Today (ADAPT), American Associations of People with Disabilities (AAPD), Justice For All (JFA), Not Dead Yet (NDY), TASH, and the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) are just some of the organizations that have spoken out against ever legalizing assisted suicides, no matter what the case. Organizations like these argue that legalizing such an act would have unintended consequences and harm a great many more than it would help. They say there are many legal ways now to make someone comfortable before death, or make it come quicker. Such ways include withdrawal and refusal of any treatment, increase of painkillers in order to be more comfortable (even if this accelerates death), and to be sedated so that any discomfort is relieved. Another argument for this side is that legalizing assisted suicide will increase the prejudice and fear of disabilities. They say that the majority of people who would be using the assisted suicide option would not be because of pain but because of fear of losing functional ability, autonomy, or control of bodily functions. These are some of the people and reasons behind not legalizing euthanasia (Golden).
In contrast to that argument the organizations that are for legalizing assisted suicide include Sense and Suicide, Final Exit Network, Compassion and Choices, Friends at the End (FATE), Dying with Dignity, and SAVES- the Living Will Society. These organizations’ entire goal is to legalize assisted suicide. They argue that in extreme cases ending someone’s suffering takes priority over extending their life- and people have a right to that. Their main point is shorter: when someone is in such pain that death is preferable to life then they should be able to ask their physician to help them end it without question – providing they are mentally stable of course (Price).
As with the organizations helping the cause the supposed solutions to this problem differ depending on your opinion. The solution to this isn’t complicated- either you legalize assisted suicide and euthanasia or you don’t. If you are for the right to chose when you die if you are suffering then you support any court cases that might rule in your favor, or join an organization that supports your opinion. If you are against this happening then you essentially do the same thing. With an issue this black and white, the solution is clear, though not easily obtainable (Euthanasia).

Works Cited
"PHYSICIAN ASSISTED SUICIDE IN THE U.S." ReligiousTolerance.org by the Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance. Web. 21 Feb. 2011. .
"Assisted Suicide Laws Around the World - Assisted Suicide." Assisted Suicide - Information on Right-to-die and Euthanasia Laws and History. Web. 21 Feb. 2011. .
Golden, Marilyn. "Why Assisted Suicide Must Not Be Legalized." DREDF: Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund. Web. 21 Feb. 2011. .
Price, Stanton J. "Different Assisted-suicide Groups, One Goal - Latimes.com." Los Angeles Times - California, National and World News - Latimes.com. Web. 21 Feb. 2011. .
"Euthanasia and Physician Assisted Suicide: All Sides to the Issue." ReligiousTolerance.org by the Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance. Web. 28 Feb. 2011. .
"Should Euthanasia or Physician-assisted Suicide Be Legal? - Euthanasia - ProCon.org." Euthanasia ProCon.org -- Should Euthanasia Be Legal? Web. 28 Feb. 2011. .

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