Right to Physician-Assisted Suicide
According to Kopelman’s article, “Does physician-assisted suicide promote liberty and compassion?”, physician-assisted suicide is an exercise whereby the doctor helps a patient with the faster means to end his or her life due to overwhelming pain or suffering. A suffering patient requests the physician typically to assist him or her to end his life. It is called physician-assisted because the doctor supports in dying and hastening the death of the patient. In this case, the doctor takes the step knowingly and ready to make the patient die. There is a difference between physician-assisted suicide and the euthanasia. In euthanasia a doctor, assist the patient to die through the administration of a lethal drug while in physician-assisted dying, the doctor deals with a sound mind individual who requests voluntarily to die by requiring a dose of barbiturates that will kill him or her. The state of the art palliative care should be established to treat these people suffering and almost ending their lives. Physician-assisted suicide should be an option when only the last means of treatment has failed to work out (Kopelman, 87). However, even though physician-assisted suicide for some appears unethical, there is a need to recognize the right for a physician-assisted suicide since it gives individual their constitutional liberty. Nobody should control how someone should die; therefore, patients should be given a right to die anytime they will.
Many states have illegalized physician-assisted suicide. However, there has been a recent flurry of legal implications in this case. Kopelman also claims that, the issue of whether of whether to legalize physician-assisted deaths (PAD) has been on debate for a long time now. In the United States, most of the states have prohibited PAD and terming it as unconstitutional, but it the real sense it constitutional. Individuals should be given their liberty under the constitution. She says that there have been several attempts to change this law. One of the federal challenging the constitutionality of these prohibitions of PAD includes two Supreme Court cases, Washington vs. Glucksberg and Quill vs. Vacco. After several attempts to legalize PAD failed, then the Death with Dignity Act was passed in Oregon in 1995 and also in Washington state in 2008. These laws allow an individual who wishes to die through physician-assisted practice to do so freely.
There has been a controversy on how to recognize the right of PAD individuals. According to Kopelman, some people associate the word suicide with some mental illness and some irrational behavior. However, these people should be given a right to control their lives because there is a point a patient realizes that death is the only best option for the illness, this is a self-preservation means. That is why when the states legalized this means of dying called is physician-assisted suicide.
There are various reasons why the right to physician-assisted suicide should be recognized. The first reason is patient autonomy. A patient should be guaranteed a right to control any possible circumstances surrounding his death. Respect of the patient is one duty of a doctor. The sole responsibility is to relieve pain the patient is undergoing, physician-assisted suicide is one of the approaches used. This practice was practiced in Oregon whereby over 100 patients obtained a prescription for lethal doses under the law, which was passed in 1997. 850 patients die after taking such doses. Most of these patients had critical and acute diseases like cancer whereby death was the only remaining option. It should also be noted that physician-assisted death is a personal choice; therefore, people should be given their right to choose what suits them. Sometimes the pain in the patient can be too much to contain, therefore when the patient recognizes it is better to die, nobody is supposed to prohibit that, secondly, there is an aspect of mercy. If the pain and suffering the patient is undergoing cannot be relived through the palliative care, then the doctor has the powers to do anything possible to assist the patient to relieve the pan, even if it means hastening patient’s death. Because, honestly, sometimes pain can be unbearable.
Kopelman also points out that, not all medicine can relieve human suffering. The pain and suffering of a dying patient can be too much. The suffering is caused by somatic symptoms like nausea, pain, depression, anxiety and even hopelessness. For most of the patients, when they feel to have the control over their death timing, they get comfort. However, it is reasonable to ask for medicine before opting for death directly. As much as there should be a right for physician-assisted individuals, nobody wants patients to die but have freedom and a right to remain alive and in good health. However, it should be noted that PAD is controlling suffering on terminally ill patients.
There is an unexpected benefit of allowing patients to have a right to physician-assisted suicide. However, it should be noted that the laws and rights for physician-assisted right do intend to kill a patient but to assist in pain relieving. In the study by Boudreau, Donald J., and Margaret A. Somerville, “Physician-assisted Suicide Should Not Be” in this exercise, patients have the opportunity to die with dignity; they experience less trauma and pin when dying. In addition, the patient has all the time to say goodbye to the friends and family members. It should be noted that when the patient requests to die early, he saves the financial burden that the family would have used to treat a disease, which will not get ill at the end of the day. The other most crucial benefit of such a death is that some useful organs like the kidneys can be saved for that patients and be used to save the lives of other patients. In addition, one can imagine if there were not physician-assisted suicide, many people could have committed suicide in a mess and horrifying, traumatic manner.
The other most important reason for legalizing physician-assisted suicide is that it gives patients freedom of choice. The capability to control your mind and body is fundamental to any human being. Boudreau and Somerville agree that, a patient should not be allowed to continue suffering for long in this world when in the real sense there are no hopes for healing members. Death is never enjoyable to witness, but also it is more saddening to see your loved one struggle in pain which will not end any time soon members .Therefore, physician-assisted death helps the terminally ill patient to end his life without necessarily undergoing agony for a long time. Physician-assisted suicide is the best method to determine the right time and manner of a terminally ill patient. This liberty grants the patients alternatives to choose. The constitution provides this liberty and makes it clear for everyone. However, some proponents can argue that physician-assisted suicide should be illegalized since the doctors have no right to determine the right time for a patient’s death.
Boudreau, Donald J., and Margaret A. Somerville. “Physician-assisted Suicide Should Not Be
Permitted: option 1.” The New England Journal of Medicine 368.15 (2013): 114-145.
Kopelman, Loretta M. “Does physician-assisted suicide promote liberty and compassion?.”
Physician-Assisted Suicide: What are the Issues?. Springer, Dordrecht, 2001. 87-102.