Moh 1 Hensley Moh 10/10/2012 Prof. Marion Bruner Draft Should physician-assisted suicide or euthanasia be legalized?

Euthanasia means taking away someone’s life in order to relieve the person from pain and suffering normally with the consent of the person. With Physician-assisted suicide in that the physician does not have to be directly involved in causing a death while with euthanasia, the physician is actively and directly involved in the death. In some countries like Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland and the states of Oregon and Washington, voluntary euthanasia which is euthanasia done with the consent of the patient is legal. Involuntary euthanasia is euthanasia without the consent of the patient, usually done by a different person because the patient is incapable of doing so (Nordqvist. 2010). The majority of states laws against euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide. There have been various perspectives on this matter over the years. Firstly, some of those in support of euthanasia believe the right to die is a fundamental freedom for everybody. Nowhere in the constitution does it state or imply that

the government has the right to keep a person from committing suicide ( Messerli. Jan 2012). If the patient and family have agreed and decided that they want to do it then it’s their business. The patient should be given the option to make the choice. Part of American Liberty Union stated in its 1996 amicus brief that a state's categorical ban on physician assistance to suicide as applied to competent, terminally ill patients who wish to avoid

Moh 2 unendurable pain and hasten inevitable death substantially interferes with this protected liberty interest and cannot be sustained ( Procon). The majority of the U.S Supreme Court was against this right to die stating that “The history of the law's treatment of assisted suicide in this country has been and continues to be one of the rejection of nearly all efforts to permit it. That being the case, our decisions lead us to conclude that the asserted 'right' to assistance in committing suicide is not a fundamental liberty interest protected by the Due Process Clause” ( Procon). Another reason put forth by those in support of euthanasia or physician-assited suicide is that we should let people die with their dignity and pride intact rather than allow them to suffer with the illness they have. Health care costs can be reduced, which would save estates and lower insurance premiums (Messerli. January 2012) . Regarding health care costs, it will be preferable to spend health care money on other things like treating patients that can be saved instead of spending huge amounts of money on dying patients who want to end their lives. The International Task Force supported this statement on health care costs saying that drugs for assisted suicide cost about $35 to $45, making them far less expensive than providing medical care and this could fill the void from cutbacks for treatment and care with the 'treatment' of death ( Procon). Those that agree with concept of euthanasia also believe preventing suicide is a violation of religious freedom. A significant part of religious beliefs involves what happens in the afterlife. According to many claims, the government is imposing its religious belief that suicide is a sin by preventing suicide. No one knows for sure what happens after we die; it should be up to the individual to determine what he or she believes.

Moh 3 By legalizing euthanasia, pain and grieve of the patient's family and friends could be reduced. Friends and family of the patient often suffer as much or more pain as the patient himself. It's difficult to see a loved one in such a bad state for so long. It's emotional and physically draining to have all that stress for a very long period. Physician-assisted suicide would give the patient the opportunity to say his or her final goodbyes and end his or her life with dignity. By legalizing euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide, vital organs and other resources like equipments and medications can be saved allowing doctors to save the lives of others. There are long waiting lists for hearts, kidneys, livers, and other organs that are necessary to save the lives of people who can be saved. The resources used on patients who want to die could be used on other patients who can be saved. From others’ perspectives, legalizing euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide would violate doctors' Hippocratic oath. Upon receiving a medical degree, each doctor is required to take a Hippocratic oath, which says among other thing, "First, do no harm" (Messerli Jan. 2012). Assisting in suicides would be a violation of that oath and may cause some damage to the doctor-patient trust. Any damage to this trust may lead to many doubts by patients. Philip contrasted this point of view saying surely, the 'harm' in this instance is done when we prolong the life, and 'doing no harm' means that we should help the patient die ( Nitcshke. ). His reason behind this statement was because euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide is consistent with good medical end-of- life care though it involves killing the patient technically. Some fear that by legalizing euthanasia, Government and insurance companies may put undue pressure on doctors to avoid heroic measures or recommend the assisted-suicide

procedure. Health insurance providers are under tremendous pressure to keep premiums down. To do this, they must cut costs at every turn and make tough decisions. Legalizing assisted suicide would likely invite another set of procedures as to when life-sustaining measures should be undertaken. We shouldn't give the insurance companies any more power over human life. Several religions see euthanasia as a form of murder and morally unacceptable (Nordqvist. 2010). Most religions in general are against killing. Euthanasia seems to violate this fundamental belief by the religious. At best, some see voluntary euthanasia as a form of suicide, which goes against the teachings of many religions. Euthanasia weakens society's respect for the sanctity of life. The United States Conference of Bishops clearly stated in 1991 that tradition clearly and strongly affirms that as a responsible steward of life one must never directly intend to cause one's own death, or the death of an innocent victim, by action or omission, therefore calling on all catholics and people of good will to reject legalizing euthanasia ( Procon). From my own perspective and my beliefs, I’m not in support of euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide. One of my fears is that legalizing euthanasia may make many patients to start feeling as if they are a burden to the doctors and may turn to euthanasia at an early stage when they could really be saved. Also, from my religious belief, euthanasia is considered as a form of killing which is not acceptable. I also believe in miraculous recoveries which which prevents me from considering euthanasia as the only option. I understand that it is the patient and the family that should decide on ending the life of the patient but I don’t think it is the best option. Overall, peoples’ reasons for and against legalizing euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide make sense in some way or another, but I just believe euthanasia should not be legalized.

Citation Nordqvist, Christian. "What Is Euthanasia (assisted Suicide)? What Is The Definition Of Assisted Suicide Or Euthanasia?" Medical News Today. MediLexicon International, 19 Mar. 2010. Web. 10 Oct. 2012. Messerli, Joe. "Should an Incurably-ill Patient Be Able to Commit Physician-assisted Suicide?" N.p., 07 Jan. 2012. Web. 10 Oct. 2012. "Should Euthanasia or Physician-assisted Suicide Be Legal? - Euthanasia -"Should Euthanasia or Physician-assisted Suicide Be Legal? - Euthanasia - N.p., 18 May 2012. Web. 10 Oct. 2012.

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