To die or not to die is NOT the question for the terminally ill. The question is how to die.
The act of suicide is unpleasant and people do not like to discuss the topic but suicide happens. It is contemplated by some, especially people suffering from painful incurable diseases who wish to end their misery. The terminally ill and those with debilitating diseases should have the choice to seek help from physicians to die. But currently with only three states allowing physician assisted suicide for the terminally ill, many cannot get the support they need or access to a painless way to commit suicide. Terminal illness can create a burden on the family both emotionally by watching the loved one suffer and financially with the cost of care. If allowed to die, these burdens can be alleviated. And finally, physicians should have the legal freedom to treat their patients to the end even if it means assisting them to commit suicide. Therefore, all states should legalize physician assisted suicide permitting mentally competent patients who are terminally ill or suffering incurable unrelenting pain to choose when to die thereby ending their pain and suffering, releasing the financial and emotional burden to them and their families, and allowing physicians to follow the Hippocratic oath to care for their patients and to take a life if necessary.
In physician assisted suicide, after a request from a patient, a doctor prescribes a lethal dose of medication, making the means of death available but not participating in it. The patient then chooses whether or not to take the medication. But some patients may not kill themselves at all if they know the legal option of help from a doctor will be available if the day comes that they want it.
Doctors and society are divided on whether to support physician assisted suicide. Those that dispute it contend that it demeans the value of human life and could lead to abuses by doctors. But the practice has been around illegally in secret for some time. Doctors have enough knowledge and experience to know when a patient will not recover. Legalization will bring strict guidelines to follow, and doctors can make better assessments before assisting a suicide.
The right to die should be a fundamental right of all people. Nowhere in the Constitution does it state the government has the right to stop a person from committing suicide. In fact the Ninth Amendment states ‘the enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.’ However, in 1997 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that physician-assisted suicide is not a constitutional right but that each state may permit or prohibit the practice. States currently allowing physician assisted suicide are Oregon, enacted in 1997, and Washington, implemented in 2009, which have specific laws allowing it, and Montana which does not have a specific law but the State Court ruled in 2009 that, in...