Physician-Assisted Suicide

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Physician-Assisted Suicide

Francis Bacon once said, “I do not believe that any man fears to be dead, but only the stroke of death.” In other words, people are not afraid to die. Rather, they are afraid of the way in which they are going to die. Today, four centuries of medical progress later, Bacon’s words are truer than ever. Medical advances have allowed physicians to prolong the lives of their patients, or maybe it would be better to say, to prolong their deaths. People are made to live too long in ways they would not choose: dependent upon machines, lying in comas, and suffering unbearable pain. Bacon’s “stroke of death” has become the “stretch of death,” giving people all that much more to fear.

To address these fears, many people attempt to control when and how they end their lives. Naturally, they turn to their physicians for assistance because the physicians know what amounts of drugs are lethal and how to administer such drugs to ensure death and prevent pain. However, in recent decades, when a patient feels that his or her life is no longer worth living for, they will commonly ask for their physicians’ assistance in suicide. Many people feel that it is the physician’s moral responsibility to end the suffering of the patient, while others feel that it is unethical to interfere with a natural process of death. Physicians exist to save the lives of patients. Assisted suicide puts them in the position of ending lives and naturally creates arguments of ethicality and legality.

Currently, physician-assisted suicide is illegal. Through numerous court cases, the United States Supreme Court acknowledged the fact that people have the constitutional “right to die.” The Court also realized that ass...

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...ive rhetorical technique is to prove their point through numbers and studies. While those in favor of legalization refer more to individual cases, the opposition refers to overall population statistics. By showing that the legalization of physician-assisted suicide in other countries has led to abuse, they persuade their readers that if assisted suicide were legalized in the United States, it might have negative effects. However, both sides of the issue establish good credibility because they provide first hand experience and are involved in a medical profession that deals with assisted suicide. They also fail to acknowledge the oppositional viewpoint and fail to give each other credit. Each side employs effective rhetoric, and because it is a highly controversial subject with so many complexities to account for, this will be debated for many years in the future.

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