Physician Assisted Suicide 3

There is much controversy over whether or not physician-assisted suicide should be legalized. Physician-assisted suicide should be supported because terminally ill patients should have the right to decide whether or not they wish to die. Physician-assisted suicide occurs when the individual assisting in the suicide of a patient is a doctor rather than a friend or family member. However, studies indicate that many physicians are unwilling to provide their assistance in suicide because it conflicts with their ethical beliefs or because it is illegal.

Supporters of legalization believe that terminally ill individuals have the right to end their own lives in some instances and that patients, in spite of current law; continue to practice regularly, in secrecy. Opponents of physician-assisted suicide argue that widespread legalization would cause abuse rather than reduce or control it. The opposition side maintains that legalized assisted suicide would lead to deaths of patients who do not really wish to die. In August of 2009, 50 year-old Ted O’Barr was lying in Hoag hospital dying of pancreatic cancer.

Ted had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer only months earlier. Doctors had informed Ted’s family that recovery was highly unlikely but that they could go ahead and start chemotherapy treatment to slow down the progression of the cancer. He had chosen to try and fight the cancer but two months into chemotherapy treatment he decided that it was a battle he was not going to win, and he discontinued treatment. During the last month Ted went through tremendous bouts of pain and suffering. He often times told his wife that he no longer wished to live and wished his suffering would end.

If given the option Ted O’Barr would have chosen physician-assisted suicide for two reasons: Firstly, to save his family from suffering the effects cancer with him which according to author Joe Messerli in Balanced Politics – Physician- Assisted Suicide. Messerli asserts that pain and anguish of the patient’s family and friends can be lessened, and they can say their final goodbyes. “Friends and family of the patient often suffer as much or more pain as the patient himself”(2010). It is difficult to see a loved one in such anguish for so long.

It can be emotional and physically draining to have the stress drawn out for so long. Secondly, when the patient (Ted) does eventually die, it is often sudden or it follows a period when the patient has lost consciousness. Physician-assisted suicide would give him a chance to say his final goodbyes and end his life with dignity. Instead of this dignified death Ted was forced to lie in a hospital bed on a respirator, drugged unconscious until finally it was decided to terminate the respirator.

Surrounded by family, he lied there struggling for breath hours before finally succumbing to the cancer. An argument the opposing side would bring up against assisted death relates to the distinction between letting death occur and intentionally causing death to happen. The claim is that a moral difference exists between ceasing and withholding a hopeless measure in irreversible cases when death is imminent and taking active steps that deliberately hasten death.

Whether one has removed life support or provided lethal medicine, the death occurs most immediately, directly, and sooner because of that specific act. Moreover, a positive human action is involved. Someone does something, i. e. , either removes a life support system or provides lethal medicine. Underlying terminal disease or intolerable human circumstance is involved in both cases. A request for assistance in hastening the end of life would not be made if it were not needed.

Even if what is involved is withholding a new treatment rather than ceasing a current treatment, human choices are involved, and the result is a quicker death than otherwise would be the case. Furthermore, patient, doctor, and family often desire a quicker death. And the quicker, desired death is exactly the outcome of providing or administering lethal medicine. “While the distinction between passive and active euthanasia has a kind of surface appeal and logic, deeper analysis reveals it to be non-decisive” (Braddock, 2010).

A difference is present, but the difference is conclusive in determining what is morally permitted or mandated. The proper question is what is the best thing that can be done under the circumstances when no alternative is desirable. Determining the answer is what values and obligations are paramount and what the consequences of various actions will be. In some instances the best of choice is to hasten death by deliberate means for those who choose that alternative or when families act for an unconscious or incompetent patient.

Another argument according to Clarence Braddock is that “certain groups of people could be pushed into choosing physician-assisted death because the patient is lacking access to care and support, and may be pushed into assisted death” (2010). Furthermore, assisted death may become a cost-containment strategy. Burdened family members and health care providers may encourage option of assisted death. To protect against these abuses it is argued, physician-assisted suicide should remain illegal.

Physician-assisted suicide is defined as the deliberate extinction of an individual’s life through administering of fatal substance with the support of a doctor or a nurse whether it is indirect or direct support. Physician-assisted suicide further, is an activity of …

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Euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide is an issue that has been included in public debates for decades now. This is due to the morality of the issue and when it can be regarded as acceptable or not. Euthanasia is the act …

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 …

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