Should Medically Assisted Suicide Be Legal?
Medically assisted dying has been a topic of debate for decades. While some say that itâ€™s
just helping a person commit suicide, others will argue that in many cases it is the right and most
reasonable thing to do. Euthanasia has long been the accepted practice to use on species other
than our own, but in recent history, the debate has moved to whether it should be performed on
humans. The controversy over medically assisted suicide mainly has to do with ethical concerns
but can also dive into wider areas. Medically assisted suicide should be legal when the difference
between suicide and medically assisted suicide, ethical concerns of patients and doctors,
financial concerns regarding the death, the mental state of the patient, and the right they have to
choose are considered.
Medically assisted dying is not the same as suicide. One contains an irrational want to die
and one contains a reasonable request to end suffering. Society views suicide as a tragedy which
should be prevented but in recent history have entertained the idea of rational suicide in the cases
of terminal or suffering patients (Wiebe 802). Those who are terminal or are beyond the point of
saving and are in extreme suffering should be considered for legal medically assisted suicide.
The prolongment of their lives is unethical in most cases. This is the difference between suicide
and medically assisted dying. Those who want medically assisted dying must have a good and
reasonable want for their death, not just an irrational feeling. They would have to be checked out
by a physician who determined they were of sane mind and that their want was reasonable, as it
canâ€™t be carried out alone.
The first area of interest in this controversy should be those who ask for medically
assisted suicide. Patients that are terminal or are in great pain. These people are often cared for,
treated, and made as comfortable as possible until their passing. With the legalization of
medically assisted suicide, all that pain could be gone with the action of one physician. The
freedom of choice is a powerful driving factor behind the pro-medically assisted suicide
community, as such â€œThe individual claim of freedom and autonomy to end oneâ€™s life is made
against those who seek to constrain that freedom; often appealing to traditional cultural,
religious, and philosophical ethical valuesâ€ (Gandsman 330). The author brings up an extremely
valid point about the ethics of medically assisted suicide. The right to choose should be left in the
hands of individuals. Upholding others of your views on medically assisted suicide due to
cultural, religious, or philosophical values is a form of oppression. So long as an individual is of
their right mind when the decision is made, and a physician is willing, medically assisted suicide
should be legal. By legalizing medically assisted dying we are upholding the peoples freedoms,
and creating a ethical safe way to end the suffering of someone who cannot be saved.
The other party to consider when discussing medically assisted suicide is of course the
physicians who would perform such procedures. Now in some countries in the world, medically
assisted suicide is legal, as such, there is much to consider from physicians who have, and
havenâ€™t performed this procedure. Another consideration for physicians would be the
Hippocratic oath each doctor takes stating above all else they will not harm. Researchers
questioned Dutch doctors on the subject, â€œRespondents expressed that they believe it is their
responsibility to treat patients and prevent deaths that are the result of impulsive suicidality and
chronic suicidality (a, b), but not necessarily those that are the result of a rational death wish (c)â€
(Pronk 273), as Pronkâ€™s research showed physicians felt it was their duty to treat patients who
are suicidal but not to prevent those who have a rational want to die. In many cases of suffering,
where treatment is not feasible medically assisted suicide is the most ethical course of action. In
terms of the Hippocratic oath, a doctor is sworn to not harm but by allowing people to suffer
rather than ending it painlessly they are causing more harm. As such ending the suffering of a
terminal patient should that be their wish, is the right thing to do.
Finances are also an important consideration when discussing medically assisted suicide.
Terminally ill patients often canâ€™t care for themselves. They rely on the good faith of family
members or friends, if none are willing or able, they rely on publicly funded programs that are
state sponsored. Housing terminally ill patients in publicly funded programs, and nursing homes
is expensive, should these patients wish to be euthanized it could save a lot of money for these
programs (MÃ¶ller 7). Programs like these rely on limited funding from the government, and other
sources so by euthanizing patients that wish it they could save money to help others. The cost of
ending a suffering patients life is far less than the cost of prolonging their suffering and trying to
make them comfortable. This should only be considered in cases where there is no relevant
chance for the patient to recover such as terminal illnesses.
The mental state of a patient is a serious concern when deciding on the legality of
medically assisted suicide. A patient who isnâ€™t in a stable state of mind shouldnâ€™t be allowed to
make decisions regarding their own life. Medically assisted suicide shouldnâ€™t be allowed to
violate the governments duty to preserve the common good and protect the vulnerable
(Kirchhoffer 115). The vulnerable he is talking about are elderly, mentally ill, or depressed
individuals. Society has a duty to protect people like this, as such those who are mentally ill
shouldnâ€™t be allowed to decide medically assisted suicide for themselves as there isnâ€™t a way of
being sure if they are making that decision completely consciously. Mental state is an important
consideration of medically assisted suicide because you canâ€™t let someone decide their fate if
they donâ€™t know what they are deciding to do.
The right to choose is an important human right all people should have. We have the right
to choose how we live our lives on a daily basis, and we should have the right to end it the way
we want. The principles the right to choose stands for protects your dignity, and basic human
rights and freedoms (Kirchhoffer 115). Human beings are born into this world with basic rights,
and the right to choose for themselves is the most important one. To strip the right to choose a
death from the people is a greater violation of ethics and morals than legalizing medically
assisted suicide. Those that argue against medically assisted suicide on the basis of morals are
ignoring the obvious violation of basic human freedoms taking the choice of how you die
Those opposed to the legalization of medically assisted suicide will bring up many points.
The most popular of them is that killing another human is unethical. While some people will
argue that the killing of another person in any circumstance is unethical, medically assisted dying
in some cases can be the most ethical approach to take. The right to choose your death, when in a
terminal suffering situation, with the freedom from the constraints of others is the most ethical
path (Gandsman 330). Allowing people to choose not to suffer, and when to die gives them a
freedom and power they arenâ€™t used to having anymore. It also allows them to feel some dignity
in their death knowing they didnâ€™t go out in some uncontrollable way, and that they had control
over the decision. It gives people a sense of security to make that decision for themselves and
keeps their suffering to a minimum.
Altogether medically assisted suicide is a topic riddled with controversy, but the most
ethical decision is the legalization of it in terminal and suffering patientsâ€™ cases. Through the
analysis of patient and doctor responses it is evident that most feel suffering patients should be
able to choose their end themselves. Those who are clear minded and mentally stable should not
be forced to suffer if they have a reasonable want to die. It also offers financial benefits for the
programs caring for these individuals and lets them offer that money towards the care of other
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Subjects in Right-to-Die Activism.â€ Death Studies, vol. 42, no. 5, May 2018, pp. 329â€“
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Kirchhoffer, David G., and Chiâ€Wai Lui. â€œPublic Reasoning about Voluntary Assisted Dying:
An Analysis of Submissions to the Queensland Parliament, Australia.â€ Bioethics, vol. 35,
no. 1, Jan. 2021, pp. 105â€“16. EBSCOhost, https://doiorg.ezproxy.cameron.edu/10.1111/bioe.12777.
MÃ¶ller, Hans-JÃ¼rgen. â€œThe Ongoing Discussion on Termination of Life on Request. A Review
from a German/European Perspective.â€ International Journal of Psychiatry in Clinical
Practice, vol. 25, no. 1, Mar. 2021, pp. 2â€“18. EBSCOhost, https://doiorg.ezproxy.cameron.edu/10.1080/13651501.2020.1797097
Pronk, Rosalie, et al. â€œDo Doctors Differentiate Between Suicide and Physician-Assisted Death?
A Qualitative Study into the Views of Psychiatrists and General Practitioners.â€ Culture,
Medicine & Psychiatry, vol. 45, no. 2, June 2021, pp. 268â€“81. EBSCOhost, https://doiorg.ezproxy.cameron.edu/10.1007/s11013-020-09686-2.
Wiebe, Ellen R., et al. â€œSuicide vs Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD): A Secondary
Qualitative Analysis.â€ Death Studies, vol. 44, no. 12, Dec. 2020, pp. 802â€“
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