Incurably ill patients should be able to commit physician-assisted suicide because tremendous amounts of financial and mental strife can be avoided at the end of a patients’ life. The right to die should be a fundamental freedom for every person, and patients can die with dignity as opposed to being reduced to a shell of their former selves.
Justification of assisted suicide can be attributed to several factors. In many instances, assisted suicide is done for medically incapacitated patients whose chances of survival are almost zero. Such are patients whose only link between life and death is the life support machine without which they will be dead.
Even with these life support machines, doctors are almost sure that if the machines are switched off, the patients cannot survive and the chances of recovery are none. Such machines often come with immeasurable cost, which cost the families a fortune. This causes terrible financial scuffle to the families and they may end up losing a lot of money even when the patient dies afterwards (Potter 56). For reasons like these, assisted suicide is not only seen as relieve to the patient but also avoids such financial mishaps.
Dying patients sometimes lose all ability to take care of themselves. Vomit, drool, urine, feces, and other indignities must be attended to by nursing assistants. Virtually all people want others’ last memory of them to be how they once were, not what they ended up being. People should be allowed to die with their dignity, pride, and self-worth intact.”This right to physician aid in dying quintessentially involves the inviolable right to human dignity—our most fragile right,” Montana Supreme Court Justice James Nelson argued in his opinion in the 2009 case Baxter v. Montana (InfoBase Learning par. 4).
“Society does not have the right to strip a mentally competent, incurably ill individual of her inviolable human dignity when she seeks aid in dying from her physician,”Nelson rules. The end stages of life for terminally ill and suffering patients are often filled with bewildering side effects, a lack of autonomy, and the dreadful knowledge of inevitable death. Furthermore, human beings rightfully deserve their individual right to preserve their own human dignity at a time when they are mentally competent, incurably ill, and faced with death from their illness within a relatively short period of time. In the article “Helping your son to die” author Kiran Somani of the British Medical Journal talks with Heather Pratten, a mother who had recently been charged with assisting in her terminally ill son, Nigel’s, death.
Huntington’s disease had totally robbed him of his “personhood” and furthermore, his dignity (Potter). Pratten describes how her 42 year old son “began to choke every time he ate, his legs had began to give way, his back to ache, and how he was losing his ability to concentrate.” Pratten says how her once fun loving son “shut himself from all of his friends, he shut himself away from everyone,” due to his disease. Nigel was loosing touch with his true self.
Not only did Heather Pratten have to cope with her son’s death; she also had to deal with assisting in his suicide. She was being challenged both legally and personally.A national newspaper reported that Nigel swallowed a lethal amount of heroin and lay in his mother’s arms until he unconscious. When she was sure her son could no longer be resuscitated, Heather then called an ambulance. If Nigel had of had the option of taking a simple prescription from the pharmacy, the true definition of his independence as well as his dignity could’ve been preserved until his last days and he wouldn’t have been reduced to a shell of a man.
Nowhere in the constitution does it state or imply that the government has the right to keep a person from committing suicide. After all, if the patient and the family agree it’s what they want to do, whose business is it anyway? Who else is it going to hurt? In a country that’s supposedly free, this is a fundamental right.For example, the Supreme Court’s primary instinct on the “right to die” movement involves the case Quillin v. State of Oregon (Mikula and MphoMabunda 76). The Supreme Court ruled that one has the “right to die by refusing medical treatment and artificial life support in order to die with dignity and grace,” according to the article “A History of the Right to Die”.
This case implies that the court is sympathetic palliative stages of citizens, and allows them to handle their families personal, end of life care in a graceful, merciful manner.However, one of the most popular “Right to Suicide” cases is that of Estelle Browning, an 89 year old woman who had lost all consciousness and was being sustained with a feeding tube. In Browning’s living will, she plainly stated that she did not want to be kept alive by artificial means, but in order to prevent homicide charges, the hospital sustained life support against Browning’s wishes (“Right to Suicide”). A year after Browning’s death, the Florida Supreme court ruled that “the execution of a living will allows caregivers to withhold food and water, as well as artificial life support from a person even when death is not imminent” (Potter 76).
In other words, The Supreme Court recognized the right to assisted suicide “even when death is not imminent.” The popular case Roe v. Wade is a perfect example of humans excising their right to choose life or a merciful death (National Abortion Rights Action League 34). The case focuses on “the right to choose” life or death for aborting mothers conflicting with their constitutional right to privacy.
The case ruled that stripping a human being of their fundamental “right to choose” violates the constitutionally protected right to privacy, not only for mothers, but for any human being (National Abortion Rights Action League 86). Whatever medical decisions a patient chooses to make concerning their bodily integrity, identity and destiny, are their own private decisions, largely beyond the reach of government interference.
It is however eminent from another perspective that assisted suicide is contrast to moral responsibility. Many religious beliefs propose that life is sacred and only The Supreme Being has the right to take it. From this point of view, religion strongly opposes any form of life taking for whatever reasons. At some point, the argument proposed by such doctrines greatly influences the decision that has to be made in case of assisted suicide or euthanasia.
The perception that such violates the purpose for what creation was made for has continued to raise heated debates among different religious beliefs. The belief that a Supreme Being has control beyond every human kind and the belief that The Supreme being understands reasons why thing have to happen, and they way they do, makes among believers of different faith scared of doing contrary to the Supreme being.
In conclusion, assisted suicide in its controversies has over the time been done for what humans believe is for the good of the person. Some unbearable medical conditions have prompted medical practitioners to carry out assisted suicide. Whether this is good or bad remains a topic whose discussion has never ending argument. It cannot be ultimately ruled out but the moral implications cannot be justified without question.
InfoBase Learning. “Montana Supreme Court: Physicians Who Assist Patient Death Cannot Be Prosecuted.” Issues ; Controversies. InfoBase Learning, 10 June 2013. Web. 16 Nov. 2014 ;http://icof.infobaselearning.com/recurl.aspx?wid=20878=7610;.
Mikula, M and MphoMabunda, L. Equal Protection and Family Law. Detroit: Gale, 1999. Print.
National Center for Life and Liberty. “A History of the Right to Die.” The Right to Die. Ed. Tamara Thompson. Farmington Hills, MI: Greenhaven Press, 2014. Print.
National Abortion Rights Action League. “Roe v. Wade Must Be Upheld.” Should Abortion Rights Be Restricted? Ed. Auriana Ojeda. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2003. Print.
Potter, Van Rensselaer. “On Dying with Personhood.” Euthanasia. Ed. Lisa Yount. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2002.
Somani, Kiran. “Helping your son to die.” Student BMJ (2001): 203. Academic OneFile. Web. 17 Nov. 2014. Web. http://db08.linccweb.org/login?url=http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CA76879618=2.1=lincclin_fccj=r=AONE=w=6fb4a21f53892d63bab92c31316e8a83