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Sample essay topic, essay writing: Physician Assisted Suicide - 3630 words
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.. elieve in a higher power, they feel that only that power can take them out of life, while those without religious beliefs say it is their right to decide. 'Pro-lifers generally believe that human beings have no right to determine when a life is over; they feel that only God can decide that' (Worsnop 'Assisted Suicide Controversy' 412). In the book, Moral Issues, it states that, Man as trustee of his body acts against God, its rightful possessor, when he takes his own life. He also violates the commandment to hold life sacred and never to take it without just and compelling cause.
(Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Controversial Moral Issues 291, hereafter known as Taking Sides) In one assisted suicide case, a man in Oregon was given the option to use a lethal dose of medications to take his own life, but he was a committed Christian and did not even consider the option. He became more independent with time, and became more dependent on God; his faith gave him the strength to resist the temptation of an escape (Gardner 68). One source feels that the communities should be the one's to decide whether or not physician-assisted suicide should take place, not the doctors, because people go to doctors to get help not to have them kill people (Fuller 12). Those people with religious beliefs also feel that life is still worth living, even if you can't do anything and have to rely on others. One source reported that, 'The press now refers to opponents of euthanasia as vitalists; the term stems from the word vital, which has a variety of definitions, one of them being characteristic of life or living being.' The vitals earned their name because of their deep belief that life is so precious that it must never be ended other than by natural causes' (Dolan 85). Some people would even go as far as feeling that people should not want to withdraw from life, when they still have the ability to interact, in any way, with their fellow human beings (Johnson and Koop 41)
In another case of a man in Oregon, with Lou Gehrig's disease, the man had gotten a hold of a package of barbiturates and was ready to kill himself, when he realized that he was still living a valuable life, because he was capable of making the decision to take his own life (Gardner 70). The issue of becoming dependent on others during a terminal illness shouldn't make the patient feel bad because they have, most likely, helped someone out at their time of need (Parry 21). Physician-assisted suicide also goes against God's plan of a natural death for some. According to one source, 'Euthanasia does violence to this natural goal of survival. It is literally acting against nature because all the processes of nature are bent towards the end of bodily survival. Euthanasia defeats these subtle mechanisms in a way that, in a particular case, disease and injury might not' (Taking Sides 291). The source went on to say that, 'Furthermore, in doing so, Euthanasia does violence to our dignity. Our dignity comes from seeking our ends.
When one of our goals is survival, and actions are taken that eliminate the goal, then our natural dignity suffers' (291). Another source believes that if people believed that everything ended after death, then people would choose to prolong life (Johnson and Koop 40-41). The source went on to say that those who did believe there was something after death, they would go when their time arrived and not prolong, they would also believe that God planned their exit and that interfering would be wrong (40-41). The issue of involving another person in the taking of a life has become a valid part of anti-assisted suicide groups. In a video produced by Derek Humphry he informs that when a doctor is asked to assist a suicide, he has the right to refuse the patient's request. If he refuses, he must discharge that patient from his care, and if he does not discharge them, it would be considered illegal ('The Right to Choose to Die'). When family members, friends, and lovers are asked to help people die, it is said to be one of the most agonizing decisions anyone could ever make, because if that person does decide to help with the death they have to live with the knowledge that they killed a loved one and if they don't help out, they live with the torment of watching someone suffer (Shavelson 33).
A big argument against legalizing physician-assisted suicide is that it is not part of medical ethics and should not become a part. The appeals court noted that the American Medical Association's Code of Ethics declares physician-assisted suicide to be fundamentally incompatible with the physician's role as healer.' The court then added a comment of its own: The physician's commitment to caring is the medical profession's commitment to medical progress. Medically assisted suicide as an acceptable alternative is a blind alley. (Worsnop 'Assisted Suicide Controversy' 397) The 'Slippery Slope' argument was made against the legalization of physician-assisted suicide, and it says that there are certain situations when nothing should be done that is acceptable because it will only lead to a course of consequences that are not acceptable (Newman 3). Newman goes on to say that, 'Our attitudes toward the elderly, people with disabilities and the devaluation of individuals for the higher good of society' should be reflected upon' (3).
The issue of pain being a part of the reason for people choosing assisted suicide is also argued against. One source says that, 'Pain is controllable. Modern medicine has the ability to control pain. A person who seeks to kill him or herself to avoid pain does not need legalized assisted suicide but a doctor better trained in alleviating pain' (Key Points for Debating Assisted Suicide 1, hereafter known as Key Points). Richard Thorne, a physician in Salem, Oregon, tells that, ''As a physician, I was always taught to be a healer,' Thorne says.
I'm sad and anguished that this chapter of medicine will come to an abrupt end unless challenges in the court overturn it'' (Kellner 55). Doctors today are not ready to help patients end their lives and they are not ready to sacrifice their professional career because one patient is suffering with the medication that is available today. As one source points out, 'The doctor has to decide whether she is prepared to sacrifice her professional creed (and perhaps even her career) out of compassion for her patient' ('Medical Ethics' 9). Many people believe that if physician-assisted suicide becomes legal, the relationship between physicians and patients will become unstable. One source states, In contrast, participation in the active taking of life, even if only by prescribing medications that a patient will self-administer, crosses a threshold and threatens the trust in beneficence that is the root of the physician-patient relationship.
Our collective unconscious must already contend with living memories of the abuse of the physician's power, most notoriously in the Nazi medical experiments and in the Tuskegee project. (Fuller 11) Another reason physicians should not be granted this power, is because it would make society look at their physician as a killer instead of a healer, which would eventually ruin the relationship between physician and patient (Fuller 10). The Hippocratic Oath is another idea that is keeping doctors from believing assisted suicide is acceptable. Even before doctors begin seeing and treating patients, they must take an oath with says that they will do anything in their power to heal a patient and in no way will they lessen the amount of life the patient may have (Battin 17). You do solemnly swear, each by whatever he or she holds most sacred that you will be loyal to the Profession of Medicine and just and generous to its members that you will lead your lives and practice your art in uprightness and honor that into whatsoever house you shall enter, it shall be for the good of the sick to the utmost of your power, your holding yourselves far aloft from wrong, from corruption, from the tempting of others to vice that will exercise your art solely for the cure of your patients, and will give no drug, perform no operation, for a criminal purpose, even if solicited, far less suggest it that whatsoever you shall see or hear of the lives of men and women which is not fitting to be spoken, your will keep inviolably secret these things do you swear.
Let each bow the head in sign of acquiescence. And now, if you will be true to this, your oath, may posterity and good repute be ever yours; the opposite, is you shall prove yourselves forsworn. ('Hippocratic Oath' 1997) This oath has been used and dated back to the fifth century B.C. and is given at the graduation ceremonies of most doctors entering the work force ('Euthanasia' 52). A strong argument against the legalization of physician-assisted suicide is that it will eventually get out of control, and possibly target certain groups in today's society, as mentioned earlier. According to one source, 'Euthanasia could and would be abused.
Over doses of readily accessible laudanum, for example, could do the business' of death without leaving a trace of evidence. Euthanasia would give rise to a sea-change' of lessened care and concern for invalids. It would release social instincts' of selfishness and cruelty' toward helpless and vulnerable persons. It would undermine the care of the grievously sick and dying' (Vanderpool 39). 'Vitalists fear that the acceptance of passive euthanasia will cause society to regard as less valuable the sanctity of human life. As they see it, ending the lives of the incurably ill could be just a step away from justifying the deliberate elimination of all people judged to be unfit by a society.
The old, the unproductive, the mentally deficient, the physically weak-all could then become the victims of active euthanasia in a society that has decided it is best to foster only the strong' (Dolan 88). According to one source when the term euthanasia first came out, it was used by Hitler when he killed many Jewish people and also the disabled (Schofield 25). Schofield went on to say that people today do not want another reoccurrence of what once happened (25). In the states that have already reviewed enacting a law to legalize assisted suicide, the issue of giving rights only to competent patients became a problem because those rights must also be given to those who are incompetent, due to the constitution, therefore making people rethink making assisted suicide legal (Wagner 622K3096). The issue of depressed people using assisted suicide to end their lives has also become an issue against legalization. One source says that you don't solve problems by getting rid of the people that cause them; you work towards a solution (Key Points 7). The fact that almost everyone with a terminal illness, who wants to end their life, fits the clinical guidelines for a psychiatrist to label them depressed (Shavelson 40).
Ed Newman states that, 'Medical doctors are not trained psychiatrist. Many, if not most, people have wished they could die rather than face some difficult circumstance in their lives. Doctors who are given authority to grant this wish may not always recognize that the real problem is a treatable depression, rather than the need to fulfill a patient's death request' (2). Due to the fact that many patients in Oregon could be using their depression to get assistance in their suicide, the Oregon Dignity with Death Act gives physicians the right to have their patients to get a psychological exam before proceeding with the death (4). Currently Oregon is the only state that has made physician-assisted suicide legal, with the Oregon Death with Dignity Act. One source states that, 'The Death with Dignity Act legalized physician-assisted suicide, but specifically prohibits euthanasia where a physician or other person directly administers a medication to end another's life' (Department 1).
With this act, mentally competent, terminally ill patients are allowed to request a prescription for a lethal dose of medications to end their life. The act also states that two doctors must both agree that the patient will live no longer than six months, and will be better off taking the prescription. The patient must then submit a written request for the drugs and have two witnesses sign the form, saying that the request is voluntary (Moore 53). After a physician has given the lethal dose and the patient has died, the Oregon Health Department reviews the death certificates to make sure that the act followed in accordance to the law (Department 2). Some people feel that this law was made because there is not enough optional health care to help terminally ill patients. The Oregon Health Department reports that Oregon has recently been ranked third, nationally, in the rate of hospice admissions (Department 8). In February, the Oregon Health Division released its report on the statistics of the first year's experience with the new law (Gardner 68).
'The report indicated that 23 people received prescriptions for lethal drugs in 1998. Fifteen used the medications to kill themselves. Six of the twenty-three died from their illnesses; two were still alive as of January 1' (Gardner 68). Those who decided to end their lives with the prescription, either died from ingesting their lethal medications or from their underlying illness (Department 3). Some statistics from the first year studies are that, 'Six of the fifteen individuals who took lethal drugs had to contact more than one physician before receiving the prescription.
An Oregon Health Division survey estimates that 67 percent of Oregon doctors would refuse requests for suicide medicine' (Gardner 68). Another source reports that 'the median age of the 21 prescription recipients was 69 years and ranged from the third to the tenth decade of life. All 21 patients were white, 11 (52%) were male, and 11 lived in the Portland Tri-County area. Of the 21 recipients, 20 had been residents of Oregon for longer than 6 months when they received their prescriptions' (Department 4). The Oregon Health Division also reports that the prescribing physician was at bedside when the medicine was taken for 8 to 15 people, and none of the physicians reported complications after the medications were taken (Department 5).
After the Oregon Death with Dignity Act became a legal option for terminally ill patients, a woman in her mid-80s with breast cancer decided this would be her final option for death with dignity (Hill and Hoover 1). According to Hill and Hoover the woman's condition had become intolerable and her bodily functions were deteriorating (3). The woman was referred to Dr. Peter Goodwin, after several phone calls were made asking for advice and help in pursuing assisted suicide (2). The source also states that Goodwin listened to the woman's symptoms and her cancer prognosis before contacting a physician that had already denied her request (2-3).
The doctor claimed that he felt she was depressed and the depression had become a part in her wanting to die. Goodwin followed by saying that the depression was questionable, although he felt that she was just feeling powerless (3). 'Goodwin said he felt confident that she was an appropriate candidate and so referred her to a doctor who would help' (Hill and Hoover 3). The woman did undergo psychiatric counseling, because it is required under the new law that if any of the attending physicians thinks that patients judgement might be impaired by depression (3). 'Goodwin said the woman's husband called after she began the process to get a lethal prescription and told Goodwin, This assurance has been like a load lifted from my spouse'' (Hill and Hoover 4). 'The woman took anti-nausea medication before ingesting a fatal concoction of barbiturates sweetened with syrup. She washed the mix down with a glass of brandy and within five minutes was in a deep sleep.
She died within 30 minutes' (Hill and Hoover 3). Prior to the death, the woman made an audiotape stating: I'm looking forward to it because being I was always active, I cannot comfortably see myself living out two more months like this. That's all. It's just, I will be relieved of all the stress I have. (Hill and Hoover 1) Physician-assisted suicide has become a very controversial issue that today's society must find a resolution to.
There are many arguments in favor of and also against the legalization of assisted suicide for those with a terminal illness. There were many ideas that made the decision of whether or not assisted suicide should become legalized a very hard decision. Most people would choose not to lie in a hospital bed, hooked up to machine that kept them breathing. They would rather choose to die a peaceful, easy death. Due to all the research that has been done, the writer has come to the conclusion that physician-assisted suicide should not become a legal option for those suffering from a terminal illness.
The reasons for this decision are because if physician-assisted suicide does get out of control, many people who have disabilities, or are of a non superior' race will be targeted, and the end result will turn out to be something like the days of Hitler and his superior race.' Another reason for the writer to come to the conclusion that has been decided is because the idea of a doctor ending the life of a patient does go against medial ethics and patients will become fearful of the idea of their physician killing their fellow patients. Who's to say that the doctor won't try to make the decision for his patient, to make dealing with patients more convenient for the doctor? The idea of someone trying to talk people into killing themselves, especially someone in the medical profession, should not be something that this world feels it needs to resort to. Another factor that helped in deciding if assisted suicide should become legalized, is that nobody should be able to choose when and how they die. The writer feels that life is something that is valuable, even when people can't move around themselves, or can't do all things for themselves. Life isn't just something that everyone inherits.
People were given life for a reason, and whether that reason is to work through a terminal illness or to make it through life without any health problems, nobody should be able to choose their time of death. Someone who fights through a terminal illness dies with more dignity than someone who takes the easy way out does.WORKS CITED Amundsen, Darrel W., PH.D. 'The Significance of inaccurate history in legal considerations of Physician-Assisted Suicide.' Physician-Assisted Suicide. Ed. Robert F.
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