The argument in the U.S. over whether to allow physician-assisted suicide and active euthanasia has reached new levels of vehemence. Oregon, California, Vermont, and Washington (and Montana, via court ruling) have become the first states to legalize physician-assisted suicide. Advocates have been campaigning, initiating ballot measures, authorizing bills, and litigating in other states in attempts to legalize one or both practices. Supporters increasingly urge either complete legalization or another form of legitimation. As stated by representatives of the Ethics and Human Rights Committee, “Many people fear a painful and protracted death or desire more control over the dying process” (209). Although, a national survey of physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia mailed to 3102 American physicians shows a decrease in support when confronted with it directly: “Eleven percent of the physicians said that under current legal constraints, there were circumstances in which they would be willing to hasten a patient 's death by prescribing medication, and 7% said that they would provide a lethal injection” (1999). Patients who brave the practice of physician-assisted suicide are real people: they have different biology and live under different circumstances, all which need to be considered when discussing physician-assisted suicide.
Humans feel they need control over how they die as much as they need control of their lives. In the movie How to Die in Oregon, a number of people touch on this issue, and a few even undergo the procedure. Roger Sagner, featured in the film, says, “I thank the wisdom of the voters of the state of Oregon for allowing me the honor of doing myself in on my own volition to solve my own problems.”...
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... who feel that they may become a burden on their family and loved ones. It is also plausible to analyze this and detect that these factors may be pushing patients to favor physician-assisted suicide.
Physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia are a topic that tends to be difficult to discuss, yet studying individual cases resembling that of Roger’s, the financial incentive involved in physician-assisted suicide is obvious. However, in light of other factors – such as finances, gender discrimination, and goals of the patients – it is obvious that more is at stake than just dignity in death. It is crucial for a system to be established in which these factors are taken into consideration and can be controlled. After all, the consequences of permitting killing under specified circumstances or assistance in such are serious and, by definition, a matter of life and death.
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