Assisted suicide has become an option in a number of states where the patient is given a chance to take charge of the fate of the life in cases where there is no hope of the patient recovering. As a result, states have passed laws that seek to guide the doctors and the patients towards the right way of following up with this process. In this case, the practice involves physician helping a patient who is suffering terminate their life upon the patient’s request. This research looks at assisted suicide in the moral as well as the ethical aspect of it. In most of the cases the patient who opts for this seeks to preserve their respect by relieving themselves and their family the pain and suffering through dying when they are on their right state of mind. The moral question, in this case, revolves around whether assisted suicide is right or should the patients be allowed to suffer until they die?
Assisted death refers to the act of intentionally ending the life of the patients who are ill and shows no hopeful signs of recovery. The process is legal in most of the states and is through a stipulated procedure that involves medical guidance and the consent of the patient. In most cases, it is done through lethal injection as this is one of the ways of ensuring that the patient doesn’t feel any pain. It is paramount that this is differentiated with Euthanasia which refers to the act of mercy killing and this isn’t initiated by the patients themselves. Notably, this has been an issue of concern since the term suicide is sensitive in a society where life is considered to be the most precious gift. Killing isn’t allowed in the society and this couples assisted suicide with moral and ethical issues that are constantly debated today.
Annual Statistics from the department of public health relate that over 577 individuals in 2017 were injected with lethal drugs and resulted in their death. This is a clear indication that the method is becoming prevalent in society. The moral concern, however, is one of the issues that conflict this method with many states debating on whether to allow this method or not. Notably, society is built on the value of life and hope and these are virtues that should never be taken away from any individual at any time as they are the basis of life. As result, this method is illegal in most European countries except Netherlands, Luxembourg, Switzerland, and Belgium; which constitutes a list of the sovereign states. In the united states, however, assisted suicide has been allowed in 9 jurisdictions namely Colorado, Maine, Washington, Hawaii, Vermont, New Jersey, Montana, and Oregon. As other states continue to implement and discuss on this matter, religious institutions have also played part in this and have made a request that even the minors be given the right to request for assisted suicide.
It is critical to note that when the laws are being passed with regard to this, various restrictions are put in place to ensure that the process is carried in the right manner and not misused to commit crime. For instance, in the case of Washington, these rules are stipulated in the Death and Dignity act and Pensce (2015).
Additionally, the main concern of society revolves around the ethicality and permissibility of this practice. The fact that only 9 states out of the 50 in the united states have passed the law is clear evidence on this matter. In the rest of the states, this kind of activity is considered a crime and punishable by the law with challenges ranging from murder to manslaughter. Cohen et al (1994) relate that a study conducted on physicians with the aim of determining their view on PAD notes that this should only be used as the last option and is never encouraged in any case. In this case, the research notes that the restrictions placed stipulate that this option is only available to patients who have less than six months to live after doctor’s analysis. In addition, the decision has to be gradual tie ensure that the patient isn’t making this decision on rush or carelessness. However, despite the skill and knowledge that a doctor has, they can never accurately predict the lifespan of patient with precision especially in the case of mental patients. Therefore, this option is only availed to the mentally stable patients who are tired of the illness and have minimal chances of surviving. proponents of assisted suicide argue that in the case where the patient has minimal chances of surviving and has been suffering for a long time, it is only right to relive the family the aim of watching their loved ones suffer while at the same time giving the patient a chance to die in dignity.
For instance, take the case of Matt Fairchil, a terminally ill patient who was suffering from metastatic melanoma at an advanced state and this was spreading throughout his brain. Matt Fairchil was interviewed by CNN and related his journey with the disease. Over a long period of time, he had gone through a series of medication, chemo and even thirty rounds of Keytruda but his state wasn’t getting better. Even though he never wanted to give up and had been strong and brave for a long time, he wanted to have his life ended peacefully under his terms. We introduced to Brittany Maynard an advocate for death with dignity who once more opened the topic on assisted deaths. She journeyed from California to Oregon just to take advantage of the act. Realizing that she had brain cancer, she became scared. She never wanted her body to experience the effects the tumor will cause. She was aided in death. She even had enough time to go peruse through her bucket list. (Compassion and Choices), this end choice has been of importance since it has granted me peace through hard moments that would otherwise be ruled by fear, pain, and uncertainty.
Opponents of assisted suicide argue on the ethicality of terminating things as valuable as life. The United States Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Judge Neil Gorsuch strongly opposes the Assisted Death acts. In his book, (The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia) he states that humans are all valuable, and taking their lives willfully by private persons is deemed wrong. When asked what should be done to a patient who was tired of tolerating the pain, Judge Gorsuch said that the practitioners must seek all the possible ways to lower the pain instead of aiding the patient in death. Further arguments speak of the possibility of implementing the patient’s will by the doctor using force. Dr. Kevorkain claimed to have aided 130 patients to die. (Wikipedia) 60% of his victims were never terminally ill. Despite being imprisoned for 8 years, he maintained the belief that he was right in his deeds.
Besides, it is paramount to note that assisted driving could be used by the patients’ as an easy way to end their life when they are annoyed by certain illnesses. Besides doctors are mandated to save the lives of the patients as opposed to taking ort in ending them, assisted deaths go again it’s the very nature of the medical professional which is providing care and healing. Other than this, there are possibilities of misdiagnosis where often a patient may be deemed as terminally ill when they aren’t and ends up living beyond the predicted time.
To sum this up, human life is precious and should never be taken away. However, the questions linger on this topic especially in the cases involving terminal illness; why allow someone to suffer when there is no hope of better treatment? Why can’t the family is spared on the medical expenses and suffering of watching their relatives die with nothing that can be one? Why can’t the patient be allowed to have power over their life? But life is based on virtues that human life is precious and hope should never be taken away. In addition, what if there is a misdiagnosis and the patient actually had a chance to live. These are questions that revolve around this topic thus making it more complicated. However, the advancement of technology in medicine has resulted in better treatment and management of diseases that could have otherwise been considered as a threat to human life, and this should result in minimal cases of assisted suicides. However, the topic should be discussed widely and balance established on the matter.
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