Should Terminally Ill Patients Have the Right to Die? The right to die movement entered the United States in 1980, when a man helped his dying wife ends her life. This man then found the Hemlock Society - an organization that would help terminally ill patients die in peace, and advocated for laws supporting physician assisted suicide. After this event, the movement took charge, finding itself being argued in court numerous times. Debates went on as more and more doctors were being charged with murder as they accommodated their suffering patient’s wishes to die with the method of euthanization - a painless killing of a patient suffering from an incurable or painful disease. States began to propose legislation giving these terminally ill patients to be able to choose to die - and although many states rejected it at first, the matter still never left the courthouse. In 1994 the state of Oregon passed the “Death with Dignity Act” allowing “terminally ill adults likely to die within six months to obtain a prescription for lethal medicine from a doctor” - serving as a milestone in the right to die movement. In 2008 Washington becomes the second state to permit physician assisted suicide, and the year after Montana’s Supreme Court ruled that “doctors [couldn’t] be prosecuted for helping to hasten the death of terminally ill patients” (“1980”). However, despite the support that this right to die movement had gained, there was opposition as states like California, Michigan, and Maine rejected it. The divided opinions of the nation then lead to the controversial question: Should terminally ill patients have the right to choose to die? However, with religion aside, the answer leans towards “yes.” Terminally ill patients should have the righ... ... middle of paper ... ... to die with dignity too” (Lee, “Life, Liberty, and the Right to Die”). The terminally ill having the right to die is not only found within the context of our Declaration of Independence, but serves a better economic option for both patients and doctors, and most importantly, allows the patients to die with dignity. Patients who are suffering from an illness that has no hope for a cure or recovery should be allowed the make the conscious choice of whether or not they want to continue with treatment, or end their suffering early. Regardless of the reason the patient chooses to die, the bottom line is that every human being has the right to live their lives the way they want to and make their own decision. They have the right to have the liberty to pursue their own happiness, and if that happiness is to die, that right and that choice should be respected and upheld.
Click here to unlock this and over one million essaysShow More
There are many legal and ethical issues when discussing the topic of physician-assisted suicide (PAS). The legal issues are those regarding numerous court cases over the past few decades, the debate over how the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution comes into play, and the legalization vs. illegalization of this practice. The 14th Amendment states, “nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws” (U.S. Const. amend. XIV, §1). PAS in the past has been upheld as illegal due to the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th amendment of the constitution, but in recent years this same 14th amendment is also part of the reasoning for legalizing PAS, “nor shall any State deprive any person of…liberty” (U.S. Const. amend. XIV, §1). The ethical issues surrounding this topic include a patient’s autonomy and dignity and if PAS should be legalized everywhere. This paper is an analysis of the PAS debate and explores these different issues using a specific case that went to the supreme courts called Washington et al. v. Glucksberg et al.
Currently, in the United States, 12% of states including Vermont, Oregon, and California have legalized the Right to Die. This ongoing debate whether or not to assist in death with patients who have terminal illness has been and is still far from over. Before continuing, the definition of Right to Die is, “an individual who has been certified by a physician as having an illness or physical condition which can be reasonably be expected to result in death in 24 months or less after the date of the certification” (Terminally Ill Law & Legal Definition 1). With this definition, the Right to die ought to be available to any person that is determined terminally ill by a professional, upon this; with the request of Right to Die, euthanasia must be
Terminally ill patients no longer wish to have their lives artificially prolonged by expensive, painful, or debilitating treatments and would rather die quietly. The patients do not wish to prolong their life and they may not wish to commit suicide themselves or worse, are physically incapable of doing so. People have the right to their own destiny and living in the U.S we have acquired freedom. The patients Right to Self Determination Act gives the patient the power to decide how, when and why they choose to die. In "Editorial Exchange: Death with Dignity: Reopen Assisted-Suicide Debate." The Canadian Press Sep 27 2013 ProQuest. 7 June 2015” Doctor Donald Low and his terminally ill friends plea to physician assisted suicide in an online video. He states that it is their rights as cancer patients to make the decision to pass, but he is denied. Where is the equality? Patients who are on dialysis or hooked up to respirators have the choice to end their lives by ending treatment. However, patients who are not dependent on life support cannot choose when they can pass. Many patients feel that because of their illness that life is not worth living for and that life has already been taken from them due to lack of activities they can perform. Most of the terminally ill patients are bedridden with outrageous amounts of medication and they don’t want family members having to care for them
America is a champion of the freedom of choice. Citizens have the right to choose their religion, their political affiliation, and make personal decisions about nearly every facet of their daily lives. Despite all of these opportunities, one choice society commonly ignores is that of deciding how one’s life will end. Death seems like a highly unpredictable, uncontrollable occurrence, but for the past 17 years, citizens of Oregon have had one additional option not offered to most Americans in the deciding of their end-of-life treatment. Oregon’s Death With Dignity Act (DWDA), passed in 1994, allows qualified, terminally-ill Oregon patients to end their lives through the use of a doctor-prescribed, self-administered, lethal prescription (Office of Disease Prevention and Epidemiology, n.d.). The nationally controversial act has faced injunctions, an opposing measure, and has traveled to the Supreme Court, however it still remains in effect today.
First of all, the “Right-To-Die” group and the Hemlock Society contend that terminally ill individuals have the right to end their own lives in some instances, and because PAS is illegal, many patients are unable to get the help necessary to terminate their lives and must involuntarily endure the extreme pain and suffering of their diseases. Others argue that PAS must be legalized...
In current society, legalizing physician assisted suicide is a prevalent argument. In 1997, the Supreme Court recognized no federal constitutional right to physician assisted suicide (Harned 1) , which defines suicide as one receiving help from a physician by means of a lethal dosage (Pearson 1), leaving it up to state legislatures to legalize such practice if desired. Only Oregon and Washington have since legalized physician assisted suicide. People seeking assisted suicide often experience slanted judgments and are generally not mentally healthy. Legalization of this practice would enable people to fall victim to coercion by friends and family to commit suicide. Also, asking for death is unfair to a doctor’s personal dogma. Some argue that society should honor the freedom of one’s choice to take his own life with the assistance of a physician; however, given the reasoning provided, it is in society’s best interest that physician assisted suicide remain illegal. Physician assisted suicide should not be legalized because suicidal people experience distorted judgments resulting in not being mentally equipped to make such a decision, people who feel they are a burden to their family may choose death as a result, and physicians should not have to go against their personal doctrines and promises.
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.
In 2007, the American Geriatrics Society defined Physician-Assisted Suicide as, “When a physician provides either equipment or medication, or informs the patient of the most efficacious use of already available means, for the purpose of assisting the patient to end his or her own life” (qtd. in Lachman 121). Physician-Assisted Suicide is what it says, suicide. In the United States the controversy of the “Right to die” is not new. According to Vicki D. Lachman a Clinical Associate Professor, after the Supreme Court decision in 1997, it was determined that there is not a constitutional right to die. The Supreme Court is allowing states to pass laws to legalize Physician-Assisted Suicide. Since then three states, Oregon, Washington, and Montana have made it legal to perform Phy...
Do people have the right to die? Is there, in fact, a right to die? Assisted suicide is a controversial topic in the public eye today. Individuals choose their side of the controversy based on a number of variables ranging from their religious views and moral standings to political factors. Several aspects of this issue have been examined in books, TV shows, movies, magazine articles, and other means of bringing the subject to the attention of the public. However, perhaps the best way to look at this issue in the hopes of understanding the motives behind those involved is from the perspective of those concerned: the terminally ill and the disabled.
One of the most controversial end-of-life decisions is “physician-assisted suicide” (PAS). This method of suicide involves a physician providing a patient, at his or her own request, with a lethal dose of medication, which the patient self-administers. The ethical acceptability and the desirability of legalization of this practice both continue to cause controversy (Raus, Sterckx, Mortier 1). Vaco v. Quill and Washington v. Glucksberg were landmark decisions on the issue of physician-assisted suicide and a supposed Constitutional right to commit suicide with another's assistance. In Washingotn v. Glucksberg, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the state of Washington's ban on physician-assisted suicide was not unconstitutional. Justices noted that while terminally ill patients on life support have legal right to refuse all treatment, terminally ill patients who are not on life support lack this right. Although the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a ban on physician-assisted suicide was not unconstitutional, individual states were free to enact laws permitting physician-assisted suicide. Not long after this ruling, Oregon passed adopted the Death with Dignity Act (DWDA) permitting physician-assisted suicide under certain conditions (State of Oregon 1995). More recently, Oregon's neighbor state Washington also enacted a law allowing physician-assisted suicide – the Washington Death with Dignity Act (State of Washington 2008) (Raus, Sterckx, Mortier 2).
The beginning of physician-assisted death is attributed to Dr. Jack Kevorkian. He practiced euthanasia, which eventually led to assisted suicide. The idea that terminally ill patients in pain could choose when to end their life was appealing to many, especially those whose friends or family suffered from debilitating illnesses. Over time, more countries and states have legalized assisted suicide and are continually refining the qualifications a person must meet for eligibility. The Death with Dignity Act in Oregon was passed by the slimmest of margins- 51% to 49%- in 1994; however, a measure that would have repealed the law was defeated by a vote of 60% to 40% in 1997 (Norman-Eady). The OLR Research Report outlines two sets of requirements patients must meet in order to reques...
The argument to be addressed in this research paper is physician-assisted suicide in the United States. Should terminally ill patients be legally allowed to choose when to end their own lives through a physician-assisted suicide in the United States? Why should people be denied the right to do with their bodies what they want? With a consent given, is it wrong for doctors is able to help people to do this in a safe and controlled environment? If we disallow people the ability to do this we could be perpetuating the suffering of the terminally ill. Some cases where the patient is terminally ill and death is imminent, people may be in favor of it. Some people want to end their suffering and feel people should choose when to end their own life.
The right to die has raised many legal and ethical issues in the United States. We as a society rely on doctors in time of agony and discomfort because we believe in their healing capabilities. So when doctors deviate from the preservation of life and promote death, it creates an imbalance between what is ethical and what is best for the patient. The general rule of palliative care is to treat and care for patients, but when those patients are in a considerable amount of pain, should they not have the right to a choose their course of treatment? In this great nation, the greatest liberty that we have as humans is to live and die in our own right in accordance with our personal beliefs and free will.