Suicide The Right To Die Essay

1512 words - 6 pages

By: WD E-mail: flh84@home.com The Right to Die, Physician-Assisted Suicide 6/3/99 History " I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody if asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect" -- The Hippocratic Oath Physician-Assisted suicide is one of the most controversial issues in our society today. During the 1990's, assisted suicide has become the subject of public debate and legislative action across the nation. Even the U.S Supreme Court has been involved in critical decisions involving the legalization of Physician-assisted suicide. These matters call into question the ethical standards and legal bases for all Doctors and Health Care Providers. The American Heritage Dictionary defines euthanasia as "the act of killing an individual for reasons considered to be merciful". Killing in this case is a physical action where one individual actively kills another. The word "euthanasia" comes from the Greek eu, "good" and thanatos, "death" or "good death". Doctor assisted-suicide can be considered auto-euthanasia. The Doctor provides the means for a patient to take their own life painlessly but does not actively or physically help that person die. Doctor assisted suicide is nothing new to society, dating back to the time Socrates 470-399 BC. With the interventions of Jack Kevorkian M.D., being played out in the media and in the courts, Doctor assisted suicide has become the focus of intense public and professional debate. Most of this attention is focused right here in Michigan because of Dr. Jack Kevorkian AKA, "Doctor Death". Doctor Kevorkian has assisted in over one hundred assisted suicides. The Debate There are many arguments for and against assisted suicide. Points for and against this practice encompass legal, ethical, religious and medical arguments. They are very complex and lengthy. Listed are just a few simplified issues from both sides of the debate. Arguments for Assisted Suicide A person should have control over one's own body. This is a fundamental right, and individuals should have a "right to die". The values of individual well being and compassion for suffering mandate that we end suffering when we are able to. The distinction between withholding or withdrawing treatment in terminal situations and directly ending a life is often not meaningful. By withholding or withdrawing treatment under these conditions is legally permissible and medically accepted by most. Proponents argue that society should also sanction assisted suicide under the same conditions. Assisted suicide is already taking place. Allowing the practice to continue in secret leaves providers isolated, without the advice of colleagues or ethics committees. This also keeps them from public accountability for their actions. To legalize assisted suicide would help ensure it is used compassionately and appropriately. Legalization is necessary, to ensure medical safeguards and make it equally available to all who choose it. Proponents wish to avoid "back-alley...

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