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Physician-Assisted Suicide

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Susan Wolf spent years questioning the ethical and legal aspect of physician-assisted suicide. “As I have before, I oppose the legitimation of physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia.” However, life provided practical experience when her father became terminally ill with cancer and pneumonia. He became weak and dependent. He was left with three choices. He could stay in the ICU, go to the pulmonary care unit, or turn off the feeding tubes and IV hydration. Turning off the tubes was the most difficult choice, but it was the best choice he had. There was no point in prolonging his suffering because death was inevitable.

Statistics show that 100% of people who are born die eventually, but we still consider death a taboo. We don't talk about it. We avoid it at all cost. People have a habit of clinging to life, but this habit can degrade our self-respect and dignity. Humans should not live like plants. Susan's father did not believe in the afterlife and he claimed that he wanted every last bit of life, even if he had to be supported by machines. He changed his mind after a long and futile battle with his illnesses. When the patient gives up, when his energy is depleted, only a quick death comes to mind.

It is hard to imagine how Susan felt in this situation. She was concerned about making the best decision for her father's situation, but she also had to contemplate on her own beliefs. “My father's death forced me to rethink all I had written over two decades opposing legalization of physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia.” She was confused and scared. She was losing her father, but she was also close to losing her beliefs. Her father asked her if they could accelerate his death. She was in a moral dilemma, but they were both awa...

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...urden than disconnecting him from the machines and waiting for him to die slowly? He would die in both cases, but he would probably prefer to die a faster and painless death.

The man's wish to accelerate his death can seem like an unacceptable choice from a healthy person's point of view. People do not have the same opinions in sickness as they do in health. If your life is ending on tubes, you might as well make it quick and painless. Can we really say we are ending somebody's life if that person cannot live it? What is the point of life only to breathe and eat with the assistance of a machine? People are not plants and they should not be kept as such. Susan's father was right about terminating his existence. It was not suicide. He was defeated by his disease and he was ready to admit it. He left the world as a human being and not as a plant supported by machines.
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