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The Right to Die

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The Right to Die

Shantell Claiborne-Brooks

Critical Thinking
(BUSI - 3005 - 1)

Instructor
Dr. Jerry Griffin

July 14, 2013

CLEAR STATEMENT OF ARGUMENT The right to die should be legal. Being forced to live a life that is unbearable is a violation of that person’s right to live and die as they see fit. Many countries permit euthanasia and doctor-assisted suicide. Euthanasia “can quickly and humanly end a patient’s suffering allowing them to die with dignity” (rsrevision.com, 2011) The quality of life is the main issue surrounding the right to die. The cost to keep a terminally ill person alive is very expensive. This can be a burden on the family.

PREMISE OF ARGUMENT People with terminal illnesses have unbearable pain and suffering. Large medical bills are accumulated when terminally ill patients go in-and-out of the hospital to try and ease their suffering. Thus, increasing economic affliction for the surviving family.

CONCLUSION SHOULD BE Therefore, we should legalize the right to die for those suffering of terminal illness due to the cost, pain, and suffering.

THE RIGHT TO DIE: AN ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY
Blocher, Mark. The Right to Die? Caring Alternatives to Euthanasia. Chicago: Moody, 1999.
Though the "death with dignity" movement is often promoted in the name of compassion and mercy, it never constitutes true care. Drawing upon his experience as a pastor and bioethicist, the author asserts that human dignity can be nurtured and respected in the face of mortality, rather than being diminished and abandoned via the hastening of death. Readers are encouraged to actively convey genuine love and support to those who are terminally ill and to promote alternatives to assisted suicide and euthanasia.
Dennison, Mike. (2009). State Supreme Court hears right-to-die argument.
This article gives a legal and personal side of the argument concerning the right to die. It gives the state of Montana’s thoughts on assisted suicide. This gives the pros and cons of the issue due to a situation where a terminally ill person passed away but should have been given the option to have an assisted suicide due to the great pain he suffered before passing.

Kilner J Who Lives? Who Dies? - Ethical Criteria in Patient Selection. Hbk 359pp Yale University Press. An outstanding in-depth analysis of the ethics of health rationing.

Rachels, J The End of Life: Euthanasia and Morality. Pbk 204pp
Oxford University Press 1986. An examination of the ideas and assumptions behind the proscription on killing.

ARGUMENT BY EXAMPLE
Supporters of the right to die argued that Dr. Jack Kevorkian was a hero that helped more than 130 terminally ill people end their own lives with dignity. (Infoplease, 2013) End of life consumes 10% to 12% of the total health care budget and 27% of the Medicare budget. (Wordpress, 2009) It is very expensive to continue to care for a terminally ill person.

ARGUMENT BY AUTHORITY
Both competent and incompetent patients can have illnesses that make their life not worth living. Both terminal and chronic illnesses make life intolerable. The Dutch have laws that permit euthanasia and suicides that are doctor assisted.

ARGUMENT USING PUBLISHED STATISTICS
In 1994, Oregon voters approved the first-in-the nation right-to-die law allowing terminally ill adults to obtain and use prescriptions from their physicians for self-administered lethal doses of medications. A total of 935 people have had Death with Dignity Act prescriptions written and 596 patients have died from ingesting medications prescribed under the DWDA. Most (69%) were aged 65 years or older, the median age was 70. (Zimmerman, R., 2013)

ARGUMENT BY ANALOGY
A person with a terminal illness or a chronic illness will die sooner than a person who is not sick. You can overdose on prescription medications and take your own life. Therefore, terminally ill patients should be given the right to die by doctor assisted suicide or euthanasia.
ARGUMENT BY CAUSE
Having a terminal illness leads to death. It is a painful and uncomfortable situation. Forcing a person to stay alive against his or her will prolong suffering. Whether the person dies now or later, the end result will still be the same. They will still die. Therefore, the right to die should be given to those people. The prolonging of life makes suffering more intense and makes life even more unbearable.

DEDUCTIVE ARGUMENT
Physician assisted suicides and euthanasia have been criticized because some patients were not terminally ill. Many of the physicians that assist in the suicides are not the ones that actually administer the lethal dose of medications. The physicians may provide the medication, but it is the patient that starts the process. The physicians merely give the patients an option to either end their life on their own terms or continue living in pain until it eventually comes to an end. Part of the treatment process is limiting, reducing, or eliminating pain. Many of these treatments are temporary “fix” that does not last too long. If you use a medication for so long, eventually the effect that it has on the pain is reduced. Instead of enduring the pain, the option to die should be given when the treatment is no longer effective.

DEDUCTIVE ARGUMENT USING SECOND FORM
Euthanasia is not the same as suicide, but it does affect terminally ill patient’s right to die. It is referred to as mercy killings. It can be voluntary, involuntary, or non-voluntary. Patients can give, refuse, or grant permission to have euthanasia performed on them. When it is involuntary, you are not able to give permission because you are unconscious. How you die with regards to euthanasia is the moral issue. It can be active or passive. Active is when the physician’s actions kill the patient. Passive is when the patient dies from an indirect action of the physician. This is when they assist the patient. The assisting is no different that if you were prescribed medications, and then the patient decided to go home and overdose on the medication. If it results in death, then it is suicide. Suicide is not against the law. However, if a physician is present and assists with the suicide or administers the medications directly, then it is a violation of the law. The concept of ending life is the same, but the morality of one is questioned. If you overdose on medications yourself and it is suicide. If a physician gives you medication and is present when you administer those medications yourself, it is still suicide. Therefore, the right to die should be given regardless of the setting and who is involved.

DEFENDING BASIC PREMISE
It is very expensive to keep a dying person alive. Many medial staff unnecessarily prolongs life in the terminally ill. “It has been estimated that 20 to 30 percent of these medical expenses for terminally ill patients have no meaningful impact.” (Meyer, R. 2010) Life is prolonged unnecessarily because they are treating complications when dying is inevitable. Whenever they go to the hospital, numerous tests will be run and they will be seen by different specialists. The federal government picks up the bill on many of these charges. Many terminally ill patients have Medicare. No matter the cost, Medicare cannot deny the claim.
Due to the break throughs in medical science, many sick patients’ lives have been successfully prolonged. The only down side is how much it costs to keep these patients alive. More than $52 million a year is estimated to be paid out by Medicare each year for patients in their final two months of life.” (msn.com, 2011) Many of these patients spend more time in intensive care. According to research most Medicare patients in many parts of the country are cared for by 10 or more doctors in their final days.” (msn.com, 2011) “Keeping terminally ill patients alive in their last days cost from $50,000 to $100,000.” (wordpress.com, 2009)

COUNTER ARGUMENT
There are so many ways to argue for euthanasia and physician assisted suicides. It can be argued that euthanasia allows ill patients to die with dignity and stop suffering. It can be argued that every terminally ill patient has the right to choose life or death. On the other hand, there are alternates to euthanasia. Patients do not have to die in order for the pain to be relieved. There are so many different types of drugs and doses of drugs to help relieve pain. Giving the right to doctors to kill patients can be abused. Those doctors can have the power to decide if a person’s life is even worth saving or not. “In the Netherlands, in 1990, around 1,000 patients were killed without their request.” (care.org, 2010) It is also hard to control physician assisted suicides if made legal. A right to die may become a duty to die for some. If you are dependent upon other, then it becomes a duty to die.

FINAL CLAIM
Many terminally ill patients that are given a specific time frame to live are forced to go through excruciation pain because they do not have the right to decide whether they live or die. Through the help of medical technology, terminally ill patients are able to live a little longer. The question is, “Is a life of pain worth living?” In some cases, no matter what medicines are given, the pain cannot be eliminated. In most cases, patients commit suicide. Even though suicide is not a crime, but if you assist with a suicide then it is a crime. The decision whether or not to make physician assisted suicides and euthanasia legal is more of a moral controversy. Supporters feel that as long as you are not inflicting harm on other, then there should be no moral controversy. It is not immoral. The wishes of terminally ill patients should be respected. It is cruel and inhumane to not listen to the pain and suffering of a person in excruciating pain and not try to help. Many that oppose physician assisted suicides argue that society has a moral duty to sustain life. Anyone with compassion has an obligation to accept the choice others make with respect to them living or dying. All life should be respected. We have the right to make our own choices. When terminally ill patient’s lives are prolonged and medical bills pile up, those bills are often passed along to their family. Many people cannot pay their own medical bills let alone being made responsible for someone else’s medical bills. The right to choose should be given to the person that is directly affected. The terminally ill person is the one facing this painful, physical, and psychological situation. If you have a terminal illness a breakthrough in medicine to treat the illness or even a cure is not beneficial due to the minimal time remaining to live. Cancer is one terminal illness that has taken the lives of millions. Many can relate to the effects that it has on a person physically and psychologically. It is reported that this is one of the most painful ways to die. Quality of life is valued over quantity.

LIMITATIONS
There are some limitations when it pertains to the right to die. The right to privacy is one limitation. Competent terminally ill patients have a right to refuse medical treatment. They can refuse this type of treatment even at the brink of death. The state can intervene if the interests of the state outweigh the interests of the patient in refusing medical treatment. (uslegal.com, 2013)
References

Infoplease. (2013). Jack Kervorkian. Retrieved on July 14, 2013, from http://www.infoplease.com/biography/var/jackkevorkian.html

Meyer, Richard. (2010). The cost of keeping the terminally ill alive. Retrieved on, July 14, 2013, from, http://www.kevinmd.com/blog/2010/12/cost-keeping-terminally-ill-alive.html

MSN (2011). The high cost of dying. Retrieved on July 14, 2013, from, http://money.msn.com/retirement-plan/the-high-cost-of-dying-thestreet

StudyMode. (2013). Physician Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia. Retrieved on July 14, 2013, from,http://www.studymode.com/essays/Physician-Assisted-Suicide-And-Euthanasia-1504895.html Wordpress (2009). The Patient has a right to decide when and how to die! Retrieved on July 14,
2013, from http://pulltheplugonlife.wordpress.com/

Zimmerman, Rachel. (2013). What Mass. Can Learn From Oregon About Dying with Dignity.
Retrieved on, July 14, 2013, from http://commonhealth.wbur.org/2012/09/what-mass-can-learn-from-oregon-about-dying-with-dignity

References: Infoplease. (2013). Jack Kervorkian. Retrieved on July 14, 2013, from http://www.infoplease.com/biography/var/jackkevorkian.html Meyer, Richard. (2010). The cost of keeping the terminally ill alive. Retrieved on, July 14, 2013, from, http://www.kevinmd.com/blog/2010/12/cost-keeping-terminally-ill-alive.html MSN (2011). The high cost of dying. Retrieved on July 14, 2013, from, http://money.msn.com/retirement-plan/the-high-cost-of-dying-thestreet StudyMode. (2013). Physician Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia. Retrieved on July 14, 2013, from,http://www.studymode.com/essays/Physician-Assisted-Suicide-And-Euthanasia-1504895.html Wordpress (2009). The Patient has a right to decide when and how to die! Retrieved on July 14, 2013, from http://pulltheplugonlife.wordpress.com/ Zimmerman, Rachel. (2013). What Mass. Can Learn From Oregon About Dying with Dignity. Retrieved on, July 14, 2013, from http://commonhealth.wbur.org/2012/09/what-mass-can-learn-from-oregon-about-dying-with-dignity

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