Should Terminally Ill Patients Have the Right to Die?
The right to die movement entered the United States in 1980, when a man helped his dying wife ends her life. This man then found the Hemlock Society - an organization that would help terminally ill patients die in peace, and advocated for laws supporting physician assisted suicide. After this event, the movement took charge, finding itself being argued in court numerous times. Debates went on as more and more doctors were being charged with murder as they accommodated their suffering patient’s wishes to die with the method of euthanization - a painless killing of a patient suffering from an incurable or painful disease. States began to propose legislation giving these terminally ill …show more content…
She wrote: “I have emphysema and tumors and have been given six months to a year to live. I believe my final days will be filled with pain and distress not only for me but for my family” (Harris, The Ethics, 16-17). Ferry found the suffering of her disease to be unbearable and serves an example of one of many that cannot do anything about it. It was too far along this diseased road to have the possibility of a cure. No treatment or medication would be beneficial. And most importantly, there was no way to painlessly end the suffering. Because it is illegal for doctors to help these patients fulfill their wishes of death, the patients are left, often times unable to perform daily functions and activities, to wait for the treacherous disease to take their lives slowly.
The United States Declaration of Independence states in its preamble, “We hold these truths to be self evident... that [all men] are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” (“Declaration of Independence”). According to an article from io9, researchers found that the most common reasons for wanting the right to die was, “loss of [independence], inability to engage in enjoyable activities, and a loss of dignity” (“Why You Should Fight”). Being ill-stricken, immobile, and attached to machine with no hope of a cure is not living. And just
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Every day in the United States 1,500 people are diagnosed with a terminal illness. These people are given few options when determining if the wish to try treatment and if treatment does not work, how to deal with the end of their lives. (author unknown, “Cancer”) With this horrible future ahead of them many may wish to make amends before it’s too late, however, an increasing number of people are seeking an alternate solution. In states such as Oregon, Washington, Vermont, Montana and soon California a relatively new, legal option is available for people with terminal illnesses. The states of Oregon, Washington, Vermont, and Montana created a law which allows people with a terminal illness and less than six months that are mentally healthy seek professional medical help that will end their lives (Humphrey, Derek) . This topic has created heated debates across the United States with each side have clear and defined reason as to why or why not this controversial law should be processed for the whole country. The people who defend the law believe that people who are losing their lives should be able to leave this world on their own terms, and with the help of physicians they can go in a painless and mess-free way. Supporters also believe that by not wanting to the end it can help save patients, doctors, and insurance time and money that could be better spent on patients who may have options and may not be able to reach them without
Imagine a cancer patient on a short rode to death. The pain this patient is experiencing is unreal and unimaginable to most. The pain medicine that can be used does little to take the agony away. The doctors can put the patient in an induced coma, but what kind of living is that? It is not living. The patient does not want to go on. Is it so wrong to ask for a way out? With less than six months to live, the patient’s hope is gone. Many argue that euthanasia is not ethical, but is it really ethical to let someone live in constant, horrifying pain and agony? While in some cases having the right to die might result in patients giving up on life, physician-assisted suicide should be legalized in all fifty states for terminally ill patients with worsening or unbearable pain.
Terminally ill patients should be allowed to do whatever they wish, for they are going to die anyway. If they want to cut that string a little earlier than the scheduled and having to deal with that pain, then they should be allowed that medication that will end their life in a painless way. It is selfish to keep someone who is going through so much pain, that they want to die, alive and forcing them to ‘just deal with it’ as if it was nothing. As if they were not already going to die. We, the United States, ‘put down’ 2.4 million healthy cats and dogs every thirteen seconds, so if we can kill so many animals because they have no home or are overpopulated, like we are, then should we not be allowed to ‘put down’ our own life without much of a problem?
According to Simon Jenkins, a writer for the British newspaper The Guardian, states that “there cannot be a human freedom so personal as ordering the circumstances of one's own death...[yet]... the near universal desire ‘to be allowed to die in my own home’ is willfully disregarded” (Jenkins 1). By allowing yourself to have life, one would assume that this gives you freedom over other aspects of your existence, including when it should end. By denying the rights to achieve liberty, achieve happiness, and define our lives, are we not denying the rights governments around the world were founded on? It is the denial of these rights that allows the mental stress felt by patients to turn into physical pain.
According to Ullmann-Margalit (51) while dealing with the subject the agony of doubt deliberates that it is among the most confusing issues to deal with. Most people do not want to die, at least not now, and the debate of holding on to the inevitable and that of letting go heats up. Questions arise concerning the social, religious and ethical factors that have to be taken into play while considering end-of-life or right-to-die and thus bringing complexity to an otherwise easy decision. But the most crucial question to ask is: are those in support of the right-to-die justified in their movement? This will be the question that will be addressed in this argumentative essay.
The U.S. Supreme Court upheld court decisions in Washington and New York states that criminalized physician-assisted suicide on July 26, 1997.12 They found that the Constitution did not provide any “right to die,” however, they allowed individual states to govern whether or not they would prohibit or permit physician-assisted suicide. Without much intervention from the states individuals have used their right to refuse medical treatment resulting in controversial passive forms of euthanasia being used by patients to die with dignity such as choosing not to be resuscitated, stopping medication, drinking, or eating, or turning off respirators.9
In 1994, Oregon became the first state to pass a bill legalizing physician aid-in-dying (Richardson, 2011). This law would allow a terminally ill patient with 6 months or less to live to end their life by their own terms (“It’s Not Assisted Suicide”, 2011). This bill leads to the question “Why would a form of purposeful death be legalized?” The bill, itself was passed for many reasons including the fact that the patients want to have control over their life and ultimately their death (“It’s Not Assisted Suicide”, 2011). They also do not want to live in fear of what will eventually happen to them. “Death with Dignity” was passed is because many terminally-ill patients do not want to live in excruciating pain and in fear of what will happen to them, living a prolonged life or taking control over one’s death is a personal choice belonging only to the individual making it.
In 1776, our forefathers signed the Declaration of Independence, guaranteeing life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. This brings up the question, if you have the right to life, do you have the right to death? After all, it is your life and no one else’s, right? This is the question at the very center of the controversial debate on the legalization of physician assisted suicide in the United States. Anti-physician assisted suicide groups often argue that no individual truly wants to end their life. However, that statement does not ring true to those who would actually utilize physician assisted suicide- terminally ill patients. Imagine being diagnosed with a terminal disease, followed by months and sometimes years of treatment that brings insufferable side effects due to countless medicines, drugs and surgeries only to be told that you have a minimal chance of survival and will have to undergo treatment for the rest of your life. This is the bleak reality for many who are terminally ill. A compassionate individual would conclude that it is not fair for patients to be forced to live this kind of life or lack thereof, if they do not wish to do so. Physician assisted suicide should be a legal option to competent, terminally ill patients in the United States in order to end their suffering, reduce the damaging financial effects of hospital costs on their loved ones and families and to preserve the individual right of people to determine their
The right of a competent, terminally ill person to avoid excruciating pain and embrace a timely and dignified death bears the sanction of history and is implicit in the concept of ordered liberty.
A patient could feel that it is unfair to be denied what they believe their right to die is. There are additional issues that a patient could experience along with the loss of their health. There is the loss of privacy, pride, and dignity when unable to care for self.
Today, voluntary euthanasia is getting closer to being legalized in more than just one state in the United States. “‘Voluntary’ euthanasia means that the act of putting the person to death is the end result of the person’s own free will” (Bender 19). “ Voluntary euthanasia is an area worthy of our serious consideration, since it would allow patients who have exhausted all other reasonable options to choose death rather than continue suffering” (Bender 19). The question of whether or not voluntary euthanasia should be legalized is a major debate that has been around for years. Because the issue of whether people should have the right to choose how they want to live or die is so complex. With the advances in technology today we have made
As patients come closer to the end of their lives, certain organs stop performing as well as they use to. People are unable to do simple tasks like putting on clothes, going to the restroom without assistance, eat on our own, and sometimes even breathe without the help of a machine. Needing to depend on someone for everything suddenly brings feelings of helplessness much like an infant feels. It is easy to see why some patients with terminal illnesses would seek any type of relief from this hardship, even if that relief is suicide. Euthanasia or assisted suicide is where a physician would give a patient an aid in dying. “Assisted suicide is a controversial medical and ethical issue based on the question of whether, in certain situations,
Euthanasia or assisted suicide would not only be available to people who are terminally ill. This popular misconception is what this essay seeks to correct. There is considerable confusion on this point, perhaps further complicated by statements in the media.
As American citizens, we are protected by individual liberties and the Bill of Rights. The purpose of the Bill of Rights is simple; it is to ensure that the American citizens are guaranteed a substantial number of personal freedoms. What if a person’s dying wish was to die on his or her own terms? Dying on peoples own terms, seems like it would be a constitutional freedom, but sadly, it is not. Image a loved one, a friend, or a family member struck with immeasurable pain faced with a terminal and intolerable illness. This patient would have to go through agonizing pain to fight a battle they cannot win, for the disease has already won. When faced with pain and death, neither the government, nor doctors should have a say other than the patients themselves when choosing to end their life. The decision or ‘the Right To Die’ is solely for that person to make. The decision to end one’s life should be a personal freedom.
Euthanasia, which is also referred to as mercy killing, is the act of ending someone’s life either passively or actively, usually for the purpose of relieving pain and suffering. “All forms of euthanasia require an intention to accelerate death in order to benefit patients experiencing a poor quality of life” (Sayers, 2005). It is a highly controversial subject that often leaves a person with mixed emotions and beliefs. Opinions regarding this topic hinge on the health and mental state of the victim as well as method of death. It raises legal issues as well as the issue of morals and ethics. Euthanasia is divided into two different categories, passive euthanasia and active euthanasia. “There are unavoidable uncertainties in both active and