Legalization of Assisted Suicide

by Claudele Fortier on September 18, 2014 - 9:24pm

       Multiple debates have been going on for many years and are still not solved at this current time since they are continuously challenging our views and beliefs. Indeed, the question about whether the assisted suicide should be legalized or not remains unanswered. There are several opinion issues about this, and it is often because people do not talk about the same ideas. In fact, there are a lot of options regarding the "earlier death". The euthanasia, the palliative sedation and the "stopping potentially life-sustaining therapy" are some of them (Quill 4). But let us focus on a more specific case which is the assisted suicide. In short, the latter implies the patient to take, by himself, the death-inducing product and the doctor only provides the patient with the product. 

       The process of assisted suicide is mostly illegal since the countries are trying to prevent suicides. However, according to an article by Pam Belluck in The New York Times, there has been an increase in the number of people travelling to Switzerland to end their life under "auspices of right-to-die organizations" (Belluck). Since this country has a permissive law on assisted suicide, people go there to end their life because their own countries prevent them of doing do. Thus, is it moral for the authorities to refuse suffering people's will to die? I do not think it is moral for the authorities to refuse someone's will regarding his/her own body since every person has the right to autonomy, to self-determination and to bodily integrity (determine what is done with our body).

       One cannot argue the fact that human beings hold all the rights over their bodies since it belongs to them. With that being said, the autority should not refuse a patient's will regarding his own body or life (in terms of medical care). If a person decides to die because of illness, it is neither the physician's nor the Sate authority's decision if whether this person can or cannot die. It is true that this person may not have all the information to take the most rational decision; it is one of the reasons why the doctor is present. But in the end, with all the rigorous information given, the patient should remain the only one taking the final decision. Moreover, as seen earlier in the case presented in The New York Times, if someone wants to die, he will do whatever he can to achieve his wants, like going to a country where the assisted suicide is legalized. Some may argue that it would create an effect of slippery slopes. In other words, that more and more people would require the assisted suicide for various reasons. But it is actually not the case. Data from Oregon (one of the four American States where assisted suicide is legal) show that only 0,2% of all deaths are PAD (Physician-Assisted Death) (Qiull 5). As the article explains, it is not the majority who uses the last resort option, but the only fact that people can use it, if needed, reassures them.

       Given those reasons, I think that it would be moral to legalize the assisted suicide and, therefore, allow people to follow their will. With that being done, it would be a long process for physicians to consider every pantient's situation in depth so that no error is being made. The patient could try palliative care as an alternative before the very last option, but then, as just said, the patient would still know that the assisted death is a choice available to him/her. Meticulous information consent would also be mandatory so that the doctor would not be seen as if he had "murdered" the patient which is absolutely not the case because it was the first and former individual's will.  In that situation, the doctor would only have provided means for the patient's end. And finally, the whole process would have been done morally since the suffering person's wants and values were always at the heart of the decision-making


Works Cited

Belluck, Pam. "More People Going to Switzerland for Assisted Suicide, Study Finds." New York Times. New York Times, 20 August 2014. Web. 15 Sept. 2014.

Boudreau, J. Donald, Somerville, Margaret A. "Euthanasia and assisted suicide: a physician's and ethicist's perspectives." Medicolegal and Bioethics 4 (2014): 1-12. Academic Search Premier. Web. 9 Sept. 2014.

Quill, Timothy E. "Physicians Should 'Assist in Suicide' When It Is Appropriate." Journal Of Law, Medecine & Ethics 40.1 (2012):57-65. Academic Search Premier. Web. 15 Sept. 2014.


After reading your essay, I found that your writing was very good and that the arguments were clear and well thought of. I agree with you and also believe that human beings should have the right to their autonomy and should be able to do what they want with their bodies. After doing a little research, I found an interesting article in The National Post about a woman who suffered from Alzheimer's who was "denied" from her desire to die. A few decades ago, she had singed a request to be deprived of food and liquids once she reached a condition where she was unable to feed herself. When she reached that condition, she was still fed even though she requested not to be. This is an example of someone who is in a way, forced to live and denied the right to death. I feel that this article can be very useful in strengthening your argument because it is an example of the government depriving someone of their right to chose what they want to do with their bodies. Link:

Overall, I think that your editorial is interesting and pretty good. The organisation of the text is clear and your writing is well done. Also, you have strong arguments followed by good evidence which help the reader to better understand what you are saying. I totally agree with you regarding humans having the right over their bodies since it belongs to them. The counter-arguments are interesting and make sense. You could consider that society has a moral duty to preserve and protect all life. By assisting others in ending their lives violates a duty we have to respect human life. Like you said in your introduction, this debate is not yet finished and everyone has his or her own opinion if assisted suicide is right or wrong. I found an interesting article in which two persons explain their point of view about the right to die. First, Baroness Jane Campbell, disability rights campaigner and founder of Not Dead Yet UK, who is against assisted suicide believes that disabled people deserve to be helped and continue to live. On the other hand, John Grantham whose his partner with motor neurone disease committed suicide, is for assisted suicide since it is about giving people choice. Here is the link:

I found the topic you chose to write about very interesting because this issue has been around for many years. I found your arguments helped prove your point that its immoral for the government to refuse a person‘s will regarding his/her body since every person has the right to autonomy. Moreover, I agree that we should respect a person’s autonomy and let them do as they wish with their bodies. I was able to find a very interesting article that shows that “Oregon physicians have a more favorable attitude toward legalized physician-assisted suicide” (Lee).This article shows that even physicians agree that a person has the right to autonomy and whether or not that person wants to die is up to him or her. Therefore, this article will help you add another argument to your essay.
Lee, Melinda A., et al. "Legalizing assisted suicide—views of physicians in Oregon." New England Journal of Medicine 334.5 (1996): 310-315.