Main Problems With Assisted Suicide
How we live, die, and are cared for at the end of life is crucial. In the world that we live in, more and more people are discussing physician-assisted suicide. Assisted suicide is suicide performed by a physician on an individual with an incurable disease. Patients must decide on continuing to live or make a choice on physician-assisted suicide to stop reliving the pain of their fatal illness. The discussion of whether physicians or human beings have the right to help people die has been around for ages. In ancient Rome and Greece, physicians administered poison to their ill patients. In the United States, assisted suicide is legal in ten states, some of these states are Oregon, Colorado, Washington, and Montana. Physicians are shielded from prosecution due to these states not having laws against assisted suicide. Assisted suicide is inhumane and goes against the physician’s role of being healers even if they are putting an end to suffering. Others might be abusive of this aid and assisted suicide goes against religion. I will, thus, argue against assisted suicide.
Several physicians believe assisted suicide should be legal, so patients would have a choice to end their suffering. Shouldn’t you have the right to die if you have the right to live? The topic of physician-assisted suicide in America became an issue in 1990 when Dr. Jack Kevorkian occasionally brought the discussion up to the public. If physicians know that their patients will not recover, should they be able to ask the patients for the option of taking medicine to end their suffering? Some physicians believe there is a difference in killing a person to deprive them of life (Preston, 1994). A pool taken in 1991 on physicians in Seattle showed that 45 percent of them were against assisted suicide while 65 percent supported assisted suicide. 70 percent of those exact physicians said they will like to have the option of assisted suicide on themselves if they were the patients (Preston, 1994). This finding shows physicians are not willing to assist their patients on suicide but liked to have this offer given to themselves. The physicians who were for assisted suicide felt it’s a sympathetic way of helping patients; they believed it was inhumane to stop patients from using assisted suicide. What physicians consider to be ethical is usually dependent on what is professionally correct. It’s inhumane to keep someone alive through medical treatment. Assisted suicide should be an option for those looking to put an end to their suffering (Preston, 1994).
People value freedom in death just as in life. The main problem with assisted suicide is the chance of the system being abused. Such as caregivers using suicide to help patients who wish might not be respected by the healthcare system or patients who are a major cost to the facility. Even though consent is required for the use of assisted suicide, consent is not always obtained. Examples of abuse are not sufficient to justify withholding that right (Benatar, 2011). If that was the case many other rights will be withheld from the public due to the lack of safety measures not being completely effective. Pain is not always the leading factor in making life unbearable. The idea of continuing in an unconscious or conscious state is far worse fate than death. It is a violation of human freedom to force patients to continue living their life when they believe continuing to live is worse than death. Even if freedom has limits, the right to die should not fall beyond those limits. Restricting a patient’s freedom can result in vast personal harm (Benatar, 2011). These can include personal and psychological harm but are not limited to these.
Furthermore, assisted suicide provides patients with a dignified death. With legalized physician-assisted suicide, patients with chronic diseases can die with dignity. Dying with dignity is dying on your terms peacefully and with anticipation of the support of family (Loggers, 2013). It is more satisfactory than dying a slow torture death, not in your control. Patients sometimes use assisted suicide to not be a burden to their families or loved ones. Family members of the patients and the patients feel a sense of control in this unknown illness when they are informed of assisted suicide whether they go through with it or not. Patients who participate in physician-assisted suicide believe they do not have a quality of life due to the illness that caused them to lose their independence. Because of this fact, the terminally ill should have the option to use assisted suicide and rest with dignity.
However, others believe legalizing assisted suicide will change the relationship between patients and physicians negatively. Physicians will go from being healers and providers to being dictators of death. The terminally ill, elderly, and disabled might feel forced to choose assisted suicide as an option (Kass and Lund, 1996). Doctors should focus on improving the quality of patient’s lives with support and pain relief rather than kill intentionally, allow or help kill patients. When a patient is given a date to live, it is usually a guess and some can live longer than predicted. While others argue that assisted suicide is not causing harm to anyone, what about the patient’s family. The patient’s family can experience emotional devastation such as anger, guilt, and regret after the thought of helping a loved one take their life.
Also, assisted suicide is considered murder. Religious opposition to assisted suicide has to do with the prohibition of self-murder or murder even if it’s consensual (Cherry, 2018). It’s inhumane to take someone’s life. Although patients have requested assisted suicide, it does not change the acts of spiritual significance. Medication should not become a source of liberation that is idolized by assisted suicide. At the moment, assisted suicide is for the terminally ill. But in doing this, assisted suicides create a category of people whose lives are judged as not worth living. Others see these individuals as people who should be killed for their own benefits. Using medicine to extend life, cure disease, and illness is appropriate but using it to take a life should not be allowed (Cherry, 2018). Legalizing assisted suicide requires us to accept it as medical care which allows physicians to end a life on the basis that it would be better for the individual to die.
Lastly, physician-assisted suicides take a private act (suicide) and make it into a medical event (Salem, 1999). Instead of maintaining individual freedom, assisted suicide limits it. Physicians are supposed to free patients from medicine, not assist to take their life with it. Assisted suicide expands the medicalization of death. It gives physicians the chance to make life and death decisions by taking patients’ lives from their hands. People who favor assisted suicide talk about the right for patients to make their own choices without private beliefs of others, religion, and values interfering. But outside influences whether done openly or subtle get in the way of patients making a choice and it affects the decision-making process. Eventually, assisted suicide will not only be because patients desire it but also because the physicians agree to it. Assisted suicide is demedicalizing death (Salem, 1999). Perhaps aiding patients in ending their life of suffering is better, but we should re-examine the claims given on the basis of physician-assisted suicides rest.
Throughout the paper, I went and forth on being for and against assisted suicide. Both sides of the argument stated quite compelling evidence. But due to the argument of physicians assisted suicide expanding the medicalization of death, I had to side against it. Although physicians assisted suicide provides patients with the possibility to die on their terms, it also opens the door for physicians to be able to control life and death (Cherry, 2018). Yes, it is unthinkable to let someone continue to suffer from medication but isn’t it also unthinkable to end someone’s life with that same medication? No one has the right to prolong or take a life but the act of taking a life is unacceptable. I believe due to assisted suicide; far more people will be provided with a lack of proper care in their terminal stages. Assisted suicide creates a category of people who are deemed as having a life not worth living and then are killed for their own benefits.
I am not for prolonged suffering but physicians make mistakes when it comes to estimating how long a person has to live. Individuals are sometimes told they have less than six months to live but end up living many more years. We will all die eventually, sometimes painfully and sometimes not, but it should be natural and not just because our lives are seen as not worth living. Dying with dignity being associated with assisted suicide is a statement that presents multiple questions. Are the individuals dying in war or war-inflicted wounds and people with diseases not dying with dignity? Assisted suicide being associated with dying with dignity makes it seems as if individuals who die for their countries or any other deaths are dying an undignified death. Human freedom being associated with assisted suicide is a strong claim but what it fails to realize is that freedom is an illusion. Even if physician-assisted suicide is a choice made by the individual, outside peer pressure will leak in and be a factor in the patient’s final decision (Salem, 1999). If Assisted suicide is legalized, the relationship between physicians and patients will forever change.
In conclusion, physicians assisted suicide can never be as black and white as we want to make it. Peer pressure will always find a way to leak into a patient’s decision-making factor. Therefore, having the freedom to choose death can never be established. Life and death should remain a natural actions not to be medicalized. Although assisted suicide is helping end pain, we should use this energy to reduce the pain of the terminally ill in their final months and not push assisted suicide their way. This argument should continue to be discussed because it’s a serious matter that affects our lives. As I stated before, my opinions changed several times during my writing process but turning death into a medicalized event did not sit right with me. Though increasing medicated death rather than having patients suffer in agony is a lesser evil, this trade-off should not conceal the price being paid.