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Physician Assisted Suicide

By phillisamanda Apr 15, 2012 1180 Words
1. Imagine yourself lying in bed in constant pain, not even physically able to stand up or roll yourself over. Now imagine living through that agonizing pain every day for months. That is the sad reality of many terminally ill patients around the US, as well as the world.

1. Problem:
Physician assisted suicide is a controversial and currently illegal practice within most of the United States, excluding Oregon,Washington and Montana. Though it may not seem immediately important to you now, you never know when someone you love will be in a position in which this may apply. For me, it was my mother who had a massive stroke on Christmas day 2011 and my father who died of liver cancer in 2006. Aside from being a child to paretnts of terminally ill patients, 6 of the 11 years I have been a nurse, I have worked for Hospice of Miami County assiting terminally ill patients on a daily basis. many people with a terminal illness become weak and start to degenerate. There comes a point in their life when, even with the maximum amount of pain killers and sedatives, the pain becomes too much for them to bare. Sadly at this point they are often to physically unwell to do anything about it themselves. Why Would Anyone Consider -Assisted Suicide? (Change slide) It’s a scenario I see all too often; a chronically ill man is suffering in pain and feels like he’s become a burden to his family; a lonely widow is suffering with a life-limiting illness and has no one to offer care and support to her. They've lost their independence and feel like they have no quality of life. We have made great strides in improving end-of-life care through palliative care and hospice programs, but sometimes it's just not enough. The care we offer our elderly and chronically ill in America is still less than ideal. An estimated 40-70% of patients die in pain, another 50-60% die feeling short-of-breath; 90% of nursing homes, where patients go to receive 24 hour nursing care, are gravely understaffed. Patients who remain at home with family providing care often feel like they are a burden on their caregivers, and they may well be. Medicare and state and federal Medicaid systems don’t cover the cost of hiring in-home care-giving support. The physical, psychological, emotional, financial, and social strain on caregivers is very real. Chronic and life-limiting illness can also make a person feel like they have lost all control of their lives. The body isn’t doing what it should and there’s no way to stop it. Physician-assisted suicide (PAS) may feel like a way to regain some of that control. If they can’t control the illness, they can at least control how they die. Quality of life is the driving force behind patients seeking PAS. Loss of autonomy, or not being able to care for oneself and make ones own decisions, is reported in 100% of cases of PAS in Oregon. Closely following are the loss of one's dignity and the loss of being able to participate in enjoyable activities, both reported in 86% of PAS cases in Oregon. It goes without saying that physical suffering greatly diminishes quality of life as well. For those who are suffering in their final days of life, death can be a welcome event. They may feel that it will permanently relieve their suffering and alleviate the burden on their loved ones. Physician-assisted suicide may seem like the best option for them and their families. Some Physician-Assisted Suicide Statistics

In the U.S.:
* Between 1994 and 2006, there were 75 legislative bills to legalize PAS in 21 states and all of them failed. * Currently, PAS is legal in three states: Oregon, Washington, and Montana. * The reasons patients gave when requesting PAS in Oregon: * 86% reported a decreasing ability to participate in activities that made life enjoyable * 100% reported loss of autonomy, and

* 86% reported loss of dignity
* Of those patients in Oregon that request PAS, roughly 62% of them actually complete it. * 90% of those patients died at home.
* 88% of them were on hospice.
* Physician assisted suicide accounts for 15.6 per 10,000 deaths in Oregon. In Canada: Physician-assisted suicide is still illegal.
In the Netherlands:
* Physician assisted suicide is legal under strict circumstances. * The right to choose physician assisted suicide remains highly favored. In the U.K.: Physician-assisted suicide is illegal. The current movement there is to focus on palliative care, not euthanasia. Elsewhere in the World: Physician assisted suicide is legal in the following countries under strictly defined regulations: * Australia

* Columbia
* Japan

Many people argue that suicide is wrong and a sin.
 Jason Herring, president of Right to Life of Idaho "We don't believe that this [the right to assisted suicide] belongs to a doctor or hospital, this is not something that belongs to a panel or even a patient, this is something that belongs to our Creator." To them I ask, what of a comatose patient who is holding on to life only through machines. Family members or a living will can allow that person to die because their condition is considered an unfit or unwelcome way of life. How is that situation different from one of a person, who like a comatose patient cannot get up or move on their own, cannot feed or bath themselves? Someone who is living in constant agony and their only wish is to end the suffering? These are the cases in which assisted suicide should be legalized. It is not a question of whether or not assisted suicide is "sinning" or immoral, it is a question of putting a physically incapable person in pain for the rest of their life, to cry and rot away for their last days, when the only thing they asked you for is to make the pain go away. * Approx 900,000 americans are diagnosed with a terminal illness every year such as …..heart failure, * chronic lung problems,

* kidney disease,
* stroke,
* neurological conditions like Parkinson's disease,
* the last stages of Alzheimer's and similar conditions,

 According to a study of patients funded by Canadian Institutes of Health Research, 63% said that physician-assisted suicide should be legalized. "Forty per cent of participants indicated they would consider making a future request for physician-assisted suicide if their situation deteriorated to a "worst-case scenario". And 10% said that had the option be legal they would have already requested physician assisted suicide. i. Of a survey of 1902 physicians in the US done by The New England Journal of Medicine, 36% of physicians said they would administer medicine for assisted suicide if the practice became legal. Conclusion:

2. It's important that we adopt a policy soon that will allow doctors to go through with the wishes of terminally ill patients living in constant agony. We can no longer turn a blind eye to their wishes, it's time their voices are heard (change slide)

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