Physician-Assisted Suicide

Every human being is in search of some sort of acknowledgement. Whether it be acknowledgment from a friend, family member, business associate or in measures of popularity, people are constantly in search of being seen and heard. I believe that the value of life is shown through one’s acknowledgement of other human beings and themselves.

Do you believe that physician-assisted suicide is a humane and ethical solution to the suffering of the terminally ill? Is one acknowledging their life’s value by having another person doom them to their death? Two esteemed physicians, Dr. Laurence Hartmann and Dr. Jack Kevorkian have both suggested that there should be no negative effects to having a physician assist in one’s suicide. When it comes to the topic of physician-assisted suicide, many readily agree that physician-assisted suicide is a very controversial and misinterpreted topic. One misconception of physician-assisted suicide is the requirements needed to fulfill the act.

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There are many requirements for a patient to receive a physician-assisted suicide, each varying from state to state.

Dr. Hartmann cites that within the state of “Oregon, a mentally competent adult suffering from a terminal illness that is likely to result in death within six months may choose to receive a lethal dose of medication, after consulting with two doctors and 15 days” (1468). The Oregon Death with Dignity Act currently states that “On October 27, 1997 Oregon enacted the Death with Dignity Act which allows terminally-ill Oregonians to end their lives through the voluntary self-administration of lethal medications, expressly prescribed by a physician for that purpose. The Oregon Death with Dignity Act requires the Oregon Health Authority to collect information about the patients and physicians who participate in the Act, and publish an annual statistical report” (Oregon Government 1). As one can see, the act takes a large amount of research to be constructed and committed. Another misconception regarding physician assisted suicide is the motive behind the act.

Are people depressed and in need of an outlet from their problems? Or, are people terribly suffering from their terminal illness? I believe the motive behind any type of assisted suicide is not to kill or murder, but to peacefully end the life of a suffering patient whose pain is untreatable and outstandingly severe. Through the vast amount of education physicians undergo, their ability to determine varying patients’ treatment should transcend into terminally ill patients wishes to die also. Some might say that by assisting in the death of their patients, doctors are counteracting the Hippocratic Oath. It is a physicians duty to relieve the ill of their pain. The Hippocratic Oath states “I will apply, for the benefit of the sick, all measures [that] are required, avoiding those twin traps of over treatment and therapeutic nihilism” (Hippocratic Oath).

Some religious viewers perceive that ending one’s life as immoral, but I believe those people’s viewpoints should not outweigh others. Even though the Bible states that it is unmoral to end a life without the act of God, I believe it is better to end someone’s life sooner than making the whole family go into pain for the upcoming death of a love one. As stated, Physician Assisted Suicide is only ran through patients that would be dying within the next upcoming six months. Either way, the family would have to deal with pain within those six months or if they would rather have their love ones life end sooner, as well as for the sake of their family. In the movie, Dr. Kervorkian states, “ Who cares what people say, it is what my patient feels” (Chapter 7).

I believe that it is not only up to the patient, but I think the family should be involved of a family member who decides physician assistant suicide in their life. I can not understand how physicians can keep someone alive who is in pain not only physically, but also mentally. Not only is the patient feeling the pain, but they are also thinking about having to die in the upcoming six months. I believe that this would just bring tragic to the patient, how can a patient be happy again after finding out that they would be dying in less than six months? Just the thought of them knowing they will be dying would bring them to death sooner. Dr. Kervorkian says, “Oh, the lingering of death. What a business. Keep death alive.

Hospitals do not make money otherwise. Drug companies either. If you are rich and you have the money, you can pay to die. But the poor, they can only afford to stick it out and suffer.” (Chapter 16). Dr. Kervorkian believes that some of the reasons to keeping the terminal ill people alive is just to keep getting money out of them, believing that it is just a business for them to get money. From medications and surgical procedures, I believe that this is only good for hospitals, but not the people. I maintain the stance that if one is terminally ill and is in a sane mind, it is the patients decision to determine their value of life.

As stated by Rowling, “We are all human, aren’t we? Every human life is worth the same, and worth saving.” (J.K. Rowling). J.K. Rowling describes the value that should be given to each life. Each life should be seen as having the same worth. As stated by Dr. Hartmann, “ I would not like the choice for physician-assisted suicide to have to be everywhere covert and illegal, or available only to the educated and the rich”(1468). Thinking alike like Dr. Hartmann, physician-assisted suicide should not only be open to the rich but it should also be open for the poor. By having equality among physician assisted suicide, suffering and disheartenment. If physician assisted suicide were made legal within the United States, illegal activities wouldn’t exist for assisting the terminally ill commit suicide.

Whereas some are convinced that committing any type of suicide is not a moral way to end one’s life. No one should ever have to suffer and be in pain while waiting for their lives to end. Who can ever believe that it is humane and ethical for a patient to keep on suffering for at most six months and just be in constant pain. Are we supposed to consider this morally correct? Keeping patients alive and suffering is not respecting the ill, but rather caving in to one’s selfish ideals.

Families are going to have to deal with the consequence of a physician-assisted suicide one way or the other. In the article, Science Daily, it states that, “The prevalence and severity of depression and grief among family members whose loved ones received aid in dying is no different than family members whose loved ones did not pursue physician assisted suicide” (par. 1). Either way, suffering cannot be excluded. I believe that if one were to assist another in the death of them self, one would feel more relief than if their loved one died and did not have their wish completed.

Another interesting fact in Science Daily states “ family members of loved one’s who requested a lethal prescription indicated they felt more prepared for and more accepting of the death” (par. 4). With physician-assisted suicide, all the family members will see it coming and feel comfortable with what has been done. Being aware of the situation and knowing that the patient would be dying would put less stress on the family member, than having a family member to unsuspiciously die.

Some might say that is is not a physicians job to take the life of a patient. I believe this is a very obscure idea for doctors due to it being a doctors job to heal the ill. Many doctors go into the field of medicine to heal people of their problems. Doctors are determined to always do their best and find cures to help out their patients. Another issue they bring up is that others claim that physician-assisted suicide is a crime rest upon the questionable assumption that it is not considered a crime. It is not a crime because they are not killing anybody. The patient is dying by either pulling a string or letting go of an object. The physician is not touching anything, he is just their witnessing the death. The patient is also never forced to do physician-assisted suicide, but has rather made the decision themselves. Physicians will always try their best to find cures and always think of the patient no matter what others think. Physician-assisted suicide is humane and ethical.

Currently I am in a position where I can relate to this topic of physician-assisted suicide. My grandma has been in the hospital for almost three months on and off now, and I know she absolutely hates being in there and is tired of it. She is constantly in pain and she is tired of everything all the time. I know she is suffering 24/7 and at this point she can not walk or sit up on her own. She is also diabetic and just started her dialysis which is very painful. The other day I had asked my mom if she would ever consider physician-assisted suicide for my grandma and she said yes without hesitation. Not only would this make it easier to our family, but I know that my grandma would not be in such pain again. All of this is just bringing pain to our family, not to sound rude, but we are all practically waiting around for her to pass away.

Even my grandma has said a few times that she is ready to go, but that still has not happened. I think anyone in my family would like to consider physician-assisted suicide for my grandma, but they would not agree that it is humane and ethical because of their religion beliefs. But is it truly religious to be stubborn and have someone into this world in pain? In my morals, I find it sinful to have someone into this world in such bad pain. If I was truly religious, I would of understood to let go of the person and let them go, knowing that they will be going to a bigger and better place. Although I completely understand their decision, I still believe that in any circumstances it can still be humane and ethical because I feel it is the best decision a patient can make, rather than just suffering all the time. As well as hurting the family members who surround them. It is what the patient feels and wants like Dr. Kervorkian stated in the movie.

Physician-assisted suicide should not be considered murder. I will concede that when Dr. Meyerson states that, “ To actively and intentionally kill a sentient patient, whatever the motivation, is an act outside of the profession” is something I can understand (1472). However, the importance of this statement, is that the profession does not matter, what matters is what the patient feels and what the patient desires.

The only reason it is intentional is because the patient is asking for it and really wants it done. Dr. Meyerson states a slippery slope fallacy when he says, “In a physician-assisted death or suicide, the motives is to kill a patient whose sentient life is still a reality, and the positive act to end it is the goal” (1472). On the other hand, Dr. Meyerson should say that the patients life might still be a reality because we are not certain that a person can still have a reality if they are terminally ill. The motive is also not to kill, but to peacefully end the life of a suffering patient who has been going through a lot.

Consequently, physician-assisted suicide should always be in the mind of the patient when he or she is terminally ill. As I have stated above, physician assisted suicide is humane and ethical under any circumstances. There is nothing wrong with performing physician-assisted suicide, but the exception to this idea is that the patient has to be terminally ill. The only solution here is to let the patient decide what they want for themselves. It needs to be their decision.

Physician-assisted suicide is not considered murder, and I truly believe that if anyone was in that situation they would prefer physician-assisted suicide versus being in pain. Also, not only would they end the pain of the patient, but it would also end the pain of the family members who are close to the ill patient. As stated, depression would still occur to the illl family members with which ever the ill patient decides to go. Such as ending their life sooner or until they fully die on their own. I believe that the value of life is shown through one’s acknowledgement of other human beings and themselves.

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