Pro: Assisted Suicide
Euthanasia or assisted suicide is a very sensitive and debatable topic in today's society. Webster's Dictionary defines euthanasia as a painless and easy death. However there are many religious, moral, and ethical arguments against this method that is currently illegal. Many people seem to fear and dread the thought of aging and death itself. It is not easy for most of us to see death as an inevitable part of life. However the issues that surround euthanasia are not only about death, they are about one's liberty, right to privacy, and control over one's own body (http://depts.washington.edu/bioethx/topics/pas.html). Assisted suicide should be allowed everywhere because everyone should have the right to choose how to live as well as how to die, it gives the person the option of a peaceful death as opposed to a painful death, and some terminally ill patients are allowed to end their lives by refusing medical treatments; in all fairness, those who don’t have that option should be allowed to choose death.
Despite the changes in modern medicine, the attitudes toward assisted suicide in America’s courts and legislatures have not altered considerably. For instance, in June 1997, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that people do not have a constitutional right to assisted suicide. Although a constitutional right was not established, the ruling did not preclude states from passing laws prohibiting or permitting assisted suicide. However, similar to its status 130 years ago, assisted suicide is not widely supported in America’s state legislatures. As of 1997, physician-assisted suicide was legal in only one state—Oregon. Moreover, that law faced challenges from right-to-life opponents and the Justice Department, which was trying to decide whether the Oregon statute violated any federal law. The other states remained strongly opposed to assisted suicide. As of this writing, thirty-five states have statutes that prohibit assisted suicide, nine states and the District of Columbia have common-law prohibitions, and five states have unclear laws. The common-law prohibitions are not always enforced; Kevorkian, who has been present at over seventy assisted suicides, has never been convicted in any of several trials held in Michigan, despite that state’s common-law ban (Nicol, Wylie 27-32).
Currently, Oregon is the only state that has legalized assisted suicide. The Oregon statute, which came into effect in October 1997, states that a doctor may prescribe, but not administer, a lethal dose of medication to a patient who has less than six months to live. It is required that two separate doctors must agree that the patient is mentally competent and that the decision was voluntary. As of April 1999, 23 patients were given drugs legally under the statute, and 15 of them used the drugs to commit suicide (Prado, Taylor 213-217). What makes assisted suicide legal in Oregon? Is it fair that individuals in Oregon are allowed to end their suffering...