Assisted Suicide In 1997, Oregon became the only state allowing legal physician-assisted suicide (PAS). Although physician-assisted suicide has been legal in Oregon for four years, it remains highly controversial. PAS is when a doctor prescribes their patient to medication which would kill them. Patients must pass certain requirements in order to request a prescription for lethal medication. The patient must be 18 years or older, a resident of Oregon, able to make health care decisions, and diagnosed with a terminal illness that would lead to death within six months.
After meeting these requirements patients are able to request a prescription for lethal medication from a licensed Oregon physician. To receive a prescription for lethal medication, the following steps must be completed: o The patient must make two oral requests to their physician, separated by at least 15 days. o The patient must provide a written request to their physician, signed with two witnesses present. o The doctor who prescribes the patient and another physician must confirm the diagnosis and prognosis. o If either physician believes the patient's judgment is impaired by a psychiatric or psychological disorder, the patient must take a psychological examination.
o The physician must inform the patient of alternatives to assisted suicide. Such as comfort care, hospital care, and pain management. During 1998, 1999 and 2000, approximately 16, 27, and 27 patients used PAS. Patients who died by PAS were more educated than other Oregonians who did not choose to commit suicide and had similar illnesses. All the medications prescribed are barbiturates. A physician or anyone else can not directly administer medication to end another's life.
In 2001, 44 doctors prescribed 33 patients to a medication that would end their life. In comparison, 39 prescriptions were written in 2000, 33 in 1999 and 24 in 1998. Although the number of prescriptions written for physician-assisted suicide has increased in the past four years, the number of ill patients taking lethal medication has stayed small with less than 1/10 of one percent of Oregonians dying by physician-assisted suicide. The reason I picked this topic is because I thought it was very interesting and also very controversial. I find it very interesting that Oregon is the only state that has physician-assisted suicide. I feel very strongly that if a person was in so much pain where they wanted to commit suicide, then it should be allowed.
I also agree with the requirements a patient has to meet before being granted the prescription. I like the fact that the patient who wishes to commit suicide has to make two oral requests separated by 15 days. Many people think that assisted suicide is unconstitutional, but I disagree. I believe that people have the right to take their own life if they are sick and feel the need to. I like the fact that there are so many requirements before getting the prescription. This gives the patient more time to decide and make up their mind.
I know if I was diagnosed with a terminal illness, I would want the option to have a doctor end my pain. I feel that suicide would be better then pain and misery six months could bring. No one really knows how much pain the patient is really going through. Take for instance, a middle aged women is diagnosed with leukemia and will soon die. She refuses chemotherapy for her condition. She is very educated and is aware she will die soon without treatment.
Her family wishes she would accept treatment, but they respect her decision. She understands the rest of her life will be painful and prolonged. Her only request is barbiturates which she could take when the appropriate time comes. What is the right thing to do in this case? I believe it is her right to decide whether or not she wishes to live. Another reason why I am in favor of PAS is because if someone is terminally ill and wanted to die, why make the state pay money to keep that person alive. Why pay money to keep someone alive who is going to eventually die and who wants to end their life.
As you can see there are many advantages to physician-assisted suicide. I strongly believe that assisted suicide is right. If someone doesn't want to live anymore, why deny them the right to do what they want with their life. Why put someone through the pain and agony of dying a slow death. Many argue that if you are assisted in suicide you did not commit suicide, you were killed.
I disagree. The topic is very controversial and everyone feels differently, but I believe in the right to do what you want with your life.