19 January 2014
The Right to Die
Every day, you lie in bed in physical and mental anguish. You are caged inside of your body; you cannot perform simple tasks like feeding yourself or using the restroom. No matter how hard you try, you cannot move or talk. Almost everything you participate in during the day cannot be done without your assistant. You are completely conscious and awake, but you are paralyzed and unable to speak. This is how a person with Locked-in syndrome lives. Locked-in syndrome is a terminal illness that currently affects about 50,000 individuals in the United States alone. People who have this symptom and other incurable sicknesses may lose the desire to live. Physician-assisted suicide (PAS) would help relieve a patient’s suffering. Physician-assisted suicide should be legalized for those who are terminally ill and/or no longer have the desire to live.
One reason for allowing PAS is to help relieve a patient’s suffering. A patient with terminal illness goes through much unrelieved pain and agony both mentally and physically. In one study conducted in Europe in 2001 to 2002, patients who requested to end their life had similar responses when asked why they desired to end their life. The top five main reasons were depression, fear of future suffering, loss of control, indignity, and fear of being a burden to others. Pain, although not a main influence, was one of several factors that caused patients to want to end their lives early in about 48% of the time. Would you still have the desire to live after being tortured by these symptoms day and night?
However, the patient is not the only one undergoing hardships during this ordeal. Their family members also have to go through this time with them. Another reason for legalizing PAS is to unburden the patient’s family. The whole time a patient is in pain, their family members have to watch them endure it, which causes the family to suffer in turn. The family also has to deal with the fear of wondering when the patient will die; it could be in a day, a month, or a year. The family has to anticipate and wait for the death to come without knowing when it will come. In one case in the U.S. (when it took place is unknown), a man named Matthew Donnelly was affected by a deteriorating body after being exposed to X-rays. Parts of his body had completely disintegrated, and the torture was unbearable. His pleads to end his life went unheard until one day, his brother, Harold, who could not stand watching Matthew suffer, shot and killed him. If physician-assisted suicide had been legal in his state, his brother would not have to have killed him in such a traumatizing, messy way. This is only one example of the strife the family of a patient has to go through. If the patient was to end his life with the consent of themselves and their family, both sides would benefit and the family would be released from the hardship.
Physician-assisted suicide has already been legalized in five states in the U.S.: Oregon, Washington, Montana, Vermont, and New Mexico. In Oregon, about 673 people have already taken lethal medication. One case in Oregon that happened recently in 2014 is about a woman named Cody Curtis who suffered from cholangiocarcinoma cancer, which crippled her body and caused physical pain. She fought with this disease for two years until she could take it no longer. She asked her family if she could end her life, to which they agreed. After taking the lethal dose of drugs, right before she passed away, she told her family, “thank you”. Her parting words remind us of the suffering she went through, and how ending her life relieved her of the pain. Curtis no longer has to go through more years of torment and agony.
In conclusion, physician-assisted suicide should be legalized for those who suffer from a terminal illness and/or have lost the desire to live. The death of a patient in misery would relieve their pain, as...
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