Should Doctor-Assisted Suicide be allowed in the United States of America?
Now I lay me down to sleep I pray the Lord my soul to keep. May I die before I wake and pray the Lord my soul to take. This is the prayer of many terminally ill supporters of physician-assisted suicide. Patients around the world that are terminally ill are suffering at the hands of the state. Dying is no longer a natural event for most Americans. Many Americans die in hospitals, where efforts are made to keep patients alive until no possible chance of recovery. The Hippocratic Oath prohibits physicians to “neither give a deadly drug to anybody if asked for it, nor make a suggestion to this effect.” The Hippocratic Oath was written at a time when physicians were providing assisted suicide for ailments as minor as gallstones. Times have changed, due to scientific advancements in medicine. Doctors can more accurately diagnose terminal illnesses, giving the patient a better understanding of their quality of life, pain, suffering, and life expectancy. Therefore, a patient should have the right to choose when, where, and who will be with them when they die.
The subject of assisted suicide has been controversial since the birth of Western medicine, more than 2000 years ago. The term used for this subject is called, euthanasia (a Greek word meaning “good death”).
Euthanasia is when a doctor supplies a death causing drug, such as barbiturates, but the patient performs the act that brings about death. In voluntary euthanasia the physician performs the death-causing act after determining that the patient wishes to end his or her life. Supporters that are in favor of euthanasia call it the “right-to-die”. It’s the ability to have control of one’s own death. The ancient Greeks; believed suicide to be acceptable under certain situations. Which; is contrary to some of today’s society and law makers. They think it’s unacceptable under any circumstances. Are we prolonging life or prolonging suffering? It is a question as old as time.
A person’s well being is a very important part of one’s life. Diabetes, neurological diseases, organ failure and other medical problems can affect the vitality of one’s life. Progressive illnesses such as cancer, aids, and Alzheimer’s are also detrimental to ones existence. Janet Adkins, a mentally competent victim of rapidly advancing Alzheimer’s disease made headlines in June 1990 when Dr. Kevorkian performed the first publicly acknowledged physician-assisted suicide in what he terms “medicide”. Medicide is Dr. Kevorkian’s terminology for medically assisted suicide.
Terminally ill patients should have the right to choose death. The humiliation of having to be cleaned after soiling oneself, and not being able to administer simple personal hygiene would be of great embarrassment. Pride is sometimes all a patient has left. Losing your independence to be taken care of instead of the caretaker can damage one’s pride. Some patients suffer socially with limited mobility and, some become invalids forcing them into nursing homes. Patients also suffer emotional stress from losing one’s job due to illness, paying monthly bills compounded with hospital bills, or the possibility of having to move in with a family member. Emotional stress is not limited only to the patient. It is also suffered by family members. Making decisions such as finding a nursing home or making room for a terminally ill family member. To die with dignity would mean we could choose where, when, and with who we want there when we die.
By not giving people the right to choose, we are prolonging life at the expense of people like Janet Adkins. Millions of people suffer from terminal diseases without the finances and legal aid to terminate their existence. Some people want to live life to the fullest-no matter how fearful the end and that is their right. Some people see it differently and that is their right.