Should Physician-Assisted Suicide be Legal? Terminally ill patients should have the legal option of physician-assisted suicide. Terminally ill patients deserve the right to control their own death. Legalizing assisted suicide would relive families of the burdens of caring for a terminally ill relative. Doctors should not be prosecuted for assisting in the suicide of a terminally ill patient. We as a society must protect life, but we must also recognize the right to a humane death.

When a person is near death, in unbearable pain, they have the right to ask a physician to assist in ending their lives. 40 percent of Americans say they would consider committing suicide if they were in severe pain, suffering from an incurable disease. 40 percent of Americans also say they would help a family member, in the same situation, kill them selves. But only 12 percent say they thought of killing them selves. In 1950, fewer than four in ten Americans supported physician-assisted suicide. Today seven in ten support it.

Some people think that people who are in mental anguish are going to be able to get a physician to assist in their suicide. This should not and will not happen, because they are not terminally ill and are able to be treated with therapy. There are problems with the title "Terminally ill patient" but there is a way to fix it. We must change the definition for "A Terminally ill patient" to: having an expected life span under 3 months, there is absolutely no way of helping the patient and are doomed to die.

But a patient has to suffering from severe pain and be terminally ill to be able to get a physician to assist in their suicide. Although widely condoned around the world, only one nation, the Netherlands has made physician assisted suicide legal. Five states tried Washington in 1991, California in 1992, Michigan in 1998, and main in 2000, Oregon in 1994 approved the "Death with Dignity Act" it won 51 percent to 49 percent. 91 people committed suicide with the aid of a physician in the first four years the law was in effect. The approach of physician-assisted suicide respects an individual's need for personal dignity. It does not force the terminally ill patient to linger hopelessly, and helplessly, often at great cost to their psyche.

It drive's people mad knowing they are going to die in a short period of time, suffering while they wait in a hospital bed. Assisted suicide makes them not have to suffer. Six percent of doctors say they have written a prescription to hasten death for a terminally ill patient. Most of them do it illegally. Making such assistance legal would permit it to be government regulated. Having it regulated by the government would prevent abuse, and permit physicians to do what many are currently doing illegally.

One example was Dr. Jack Kevorkian who publicly acknowledged helping 130 people commit suicide. He was convicted of second-degree murder in 1999 and sentenced to 10 to 25 years for giving a lethal injection to one terminally ill man. He was enjoined by an Oakland judge from aiding in any suicides except the one he was convicted of. There is no real difference between recognizing the legal right to medical assistance in dying, and the already accepted practice of removing life-sustaining treatment when a patient desires. The only difference is that the person who has his life-sustaining treatment removed suffers (Terry Schiavo a woman who had her feeding tube removed slowly starved to death over a two-week period), and physician-assisted suicide is usually accomplished by administering a lethal injection a much more humane way of dieing.

We also can't only look at the patient but the people affected by watching a person suffer. By allowing physician-assisted suicide the burden their families might face would be lifted. The level of support goes up with the education the public has. Only half of Americans with a high school diploma support physician-assisted suicide, while the level of support gets higher with Americans who are college or post-college graduates. Other studies showed that Blacks and Hispanics are more likely than the general public to oppose assisted suicides.

Insurance companies should be required to provide health and life benefits to people who die with medical assistance. Although the insurance companies should be paid for the period of time the terminally ill person was expected to live. The reason the companies need to pay is that people may keep on living in great pain just so they don't leave their families with nothing, which should not happen. Life must be protected, but we must also permit people to have a humane death. Terminally ill patients should be allowed to determine when they die. They deserve the right not to suffer from great pain.

Physician-assisted suicide needs to be legalized. We also must make it a socially accepted, and stigma free procedure for the patients who need it. web.