Physician die. After the 1997 Supreme Court

Physician Assisted Suicide and the Right to Die

Physician assisted suicide, also known as right to die has become a big issue
within the last twenty years.  In
America,  A country that promotes
independence and personal rights; it seems quite regressive  to deny a person their right to die. After the
1997 Supreme Court decision which declined to nationally recognize assisted
suicide, Chief Justice William Rehquist stated this issue best when he said we
are “engaged in an earnest and profound debate about the morality, legality and
practicality of physician assisted suicide as it should in a democratic
society” (Karaim). Cut to 2014 and
over ten years later this issue has gained more momentum than ever, specifically
in California after the California Compassionate Choices Act following the
passing and implementation of The Dignity Act in Oregon (Tucker). The benefits
of assisted suicide include an end in suffering for patients while saving their
family from future debt and allowing their organs and the energy used to keep
them alive to save others who can live a complete and healthy life. There is
some personal and moral opposition to physician assisted suicide nationally,
but the positives outweigh the negatives and California should take further
steps in aiding and providing options for those dying.
The main, if not most beneficial, aspect of physician assisted suicide is that
the pain and suffering surrounding the final months and days of a person’s life
can be prevented by their choice alone. Look at this on a simpler level, the
modern day family portrait often includes a pet whether it is a cat, a dog or
something uncommon and these animals get treated like another member of the
family. For example when a dog gets sick most families take their pet to the
veterinarian and follow the recommended protocol, however when something
incurable comes up like cancer the dog is often put to sleep. A human being and
a pet are not necessarily equal but the bottom line is that when a pet is put
to sleep it is to prevent further pain and suffering, so this mentality should
be carried over for people. There is no doubt that people do experience pain in
their final days, the SUPPORT Study conducted in Oregon, found that “Fifty
percent of conscious patients who died in the hospital experienced moderate to
severe pain in the last three days of life” (Steinbock). Looking at this
information it can be seen as cruel to keep a terminally ill person in pain and
misery against their wishes when death is undeniably going to occur in the near
Autonomy is synonymous with independence and is often brought up as a major pro
for assisted suicide for two reasons, the first being that those terminally ill
want to keep their autonomy and not depend on anyone else in their final days.
In the article titled “Assisted Suicide” by Reed Karaim, the reader gets an
inside look at a man named Lee Johnson who was diagnosed with terminally ill
brain cancer as he explained his belief in “living by choice and wanting to die
with dignity and grace.” (Karaim) Johnson took
advantage of the Death with Dignity Act in Oregon which allows people to go
through a process that ultimately ends in a prescribed lethal dose of
medication (Tucker). The second reason autonomy is favored is because of court
decisions like Roe vs. Wade and Griswold vs. Connecticut which favored to
protect each individual’s body and independence (Alstyne). Both Supreme Court
cases upheld the right to privacy when it comes to personal body decisions and
California should look at physician assisted suicide in that same context.
Physician assisted suicide may seem irrational and selfish to some but in
reality an individual who takes advantage of this is not doing so strictly for
selfish reasons, benefits to the grim situation include preventing family from
accruing future debt. In a study conducted on two hundred patients receiving
physician assisted suicide in Oregon, one of the concerns of patients included becoming
a “burden on family and friends” (Dahl, Levy). This accounts for the cost of
keeping someone alive who does not wish to suffer as well as watching friends
and family emotionally suffer, and if America were to adopt something similar
to the Death with Dignity Act like Oregon, the state could prevent debt and
misery surrounding dying people. Although this was once attempted in 2007 with
the California Compassionate Choices Act, which included stricter guidelines
than the Death with Dignity Act like shorter life expectancy, it was never
passed (Tucker ). While this may not have been passed, by reassessing the
situation and looking at hospice care costs it seems irrational to keep a
terminally ill person alive who does not wish to continue living in pain.
When a terminally ill person is kept alive against their wishes it does not
just hurt them it hurts other patients as well because they are using doctors,
nurses and other medical machinery to prolong a life the individual is not
going to fight for. A judge, when asked about the issue replied by saying that
prolonging a life when the outcome is death is not the state’s business nor is
it the state’s business to keep a person in agony against their wishes (Steinbock). All doctors main
goal is save lives as it should be, but in some cases by keeping a person when
facing imminent death, a doctor is saving less people in the long run. Some
patients in these situations may be able to donate viable organs and help
others who have a better chance of living as well as allowing the doctors
currently helping them save others. A doctor’s main job is to save a patient’s
life; there is no denying that but when it hurts a patient more to keep them
alive when death is inevitable the situation need to be reevaluated.
There are many who argue that physician assisted suicide is morally wrong and
should not be further implemented in our country for that reason alone. It is
argued that by allowing some terminally ill or facing imminent suffering people
the right to die, what is to say that a perfectly healthy person does not have
that same right? In reality, it is not as black and white as most would like to
think, by keeping terminally sick people alive and prolonging pain and
suffering it does not benefit anyone. The benefits occur when a patient has to
the opportunity to utilize physician assisted suicide and end their suffering
as well as possibly helping families and other patients. This is by no means
the path for every terminally ill or physically suffering patient to take but
it is a right that should not be denied and America should take further steps
to creating options and promote privacy when making these decisions.

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Works Cited
Alstyne, William Van. “Duke Law Journal No. 6:
1677-1688 Jstore Web.” n.d. “Closing the circle of constitutional
Review from Criswold v. Connecticut to Roe v. Wade: an outline of decision
merely overruling roe.”.
Dahl, E., And N. Levy. “BMJ: British Medical
Journal 32.6 Jstor. Web.” n.d. “The Case for Physician Assisted
Suicide: How can it Possibly Be Proven? .
Karaim, Reed. “CQ Researcher 17 May 2013:
449-72.” n.d. Assisted Suicide.
Steinbock, B. “BMJ: British Medical Journal,
N.D.” n.d. “The Case for Physician Assisted Suicide:not
Tucker, Kathryn. “Michigan Law Review 106:
1593-1611 .” n.d. “In the Laboratory of the States: The Progress
of Glucksberg’s Invitation to States to Address End-of-Life Choice”.