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
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.