Susan Wolf spent years questioning the ethical and legal aspect of physician-assisted suicide. “As I have before, I oppose the legitimation of physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia.” However, life provided practical experience when her father became terminally ill with cancer and pneumonia. He became weak and dependent. He was left with three choices. He could stay in the ICU, go to the pulmonary care unit, or turn off the feeding tubes and IV hydration. Turning off the tubes was the most difficult choice, but it was the best choice he had. There was no point in prolonging his suffering because death was inevitable.
Statistics show that 100% of people who are born die eventually, but we still consider death a taboo. We don't talk about it. We avoid it at all cost. People have a habit of clinging to life, but this habit can degrade our self-respect and dignity. Humans should not live like plants. Susan's father did not believe in the afterlife and he claimed that he wanted every last bit of life, even if he had to be supported by machines. He changed his mind after a long and futile battle with his illnesses. When the patient gives up, when his energy is depleted, only a quick death comes to mind.
It is hard to imagine how Susan felt in this situation. She was concerned about making the best decision for her father's situation, but she also had to contemplate on her own beliefs. “My father's death forced me to rethink all I had written over two decades opposing legalization of physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia.” She was confused and scared. She was losing her father, but she was also close to losing her beliefs. Her father asked her if they could accelerate his death. She was in a moral dilemma, but they were both aware that death was the only relief he looked forward to.
After she made peace with the situation, she admits that accelerating her father's death would have saved them both significant amounts of stress and effort. “In truth, it was life that answered the question, not logic. In some ways, it would have been psychologically easier, or at least faster, to bring the ordeal we all were experiencing to a quick end.” He had less than six months to live and he was tired from fighting with his ailments. They were both spending time and energy on maintaining his miserable state of being.
Although Susan wanted the best for her father, letting him die was a better decision in this particular situation. They both invested time and money in his medical treatments as soon as his condition was diagnosed. They did all they can to restore his health. When his body and mind became too weak, there was no other option than terminating the machines and letting the man die before he endured any more suffering.