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Physician Assisted Suicide: The Right To Choose

2596 words - 10 pages

     On April 13, 1999, the most recognized physician performing assisted suicide, Dr, Jack Kevorkian, was sentenced to ten to twenty-five years in prison for second degree murder and three to seven years for delivery of a controlled substance. Assisted suicide happens when a person commits suicide with the help of someone else. Physician assisted suicide is generally pain free and, as some would say, the most peaceful way to die. Should it be the right of terminally ill patients to decide if they want to seek out physician assisted suicide to end their intolerable pain, or should it be up to the courts?
     Physician-assisted suicide occurs when a physician facilitates a patient’s death by providing the necessary means and/or information to enable the patient to perform the life-ending act (AMA).Each and every human being knows that there will come a time when his or her life will come to an end. When, where, and how are some of the scariest things any of us have to think about. Everyday, people commit suicide because they are too scared to face the life they have ahead of them. Those who fail to actually end their lives are not punished, but are actually pitied and given a tremendous amount of help. What about those people who are too sick, or are in too much pain to actually carry out the act of suicide there selves? Should they be made to suffer for the rest of their lives, even though they might only have a couple of months, even weeks? Dr. Kevorkian, as well as other physicians, offer these kinds of people another option, a painless injection or a few short breaths of carbon monoxide to end all of their suffering. It isn’t fair for those of us who aren’t suffering, or those of us who have strong religious beliefs, to impose our feelings of what is morally or ethically wrong on the rest of society. Suicide is not an illegal act in this country, no one gets punished for attempting suicide, it’s only assisted suicide that is illegal. Ultimately, assisted suicide is a question of choice and empowering people to have control over their own bodies.
     The earliest American statute to outlaw assisted suicide was enacted in New York, Act of Dec. 10, 1828. Many of the new states and territories followed New York's example. Between 1857 and 1865, a New York commission led by Dudley Field drafted a criminal code that prohibited "aiding" a suicide and, specifically, "furnishing another person with any deadly weapon or poisonous drug, knowing that such person intends to use such weapon or drug in taking his own life." By the time the Fourteenth Amendment, which prohibits states from denying any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws, was ratified, it was a crime in most states to assist a suicide. These laws are deeply rooted. In recent years, however, these assisted suicide bans have been reexamined and, reacknowledged....

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