PHI Informal Logic/103
May 7, 2012
Stephen Carter, Ph.D.
Physician assisted suicide is the practice of providing a patient with information, medication, and or equipment to use to end their own life. Physician assisted suicide remains a controversial issue both legally and morally (Wolfsast, 2008).The debate on whether to legalize physician assisted suicide has been alive for centuries. Some parts of the world like Australia have legalized the act while others like England are resisting the legalization (Wolfslat, 2008). Physician assisted suicide should be legalized in order to assist terminally ill individuals. Terminally ill patients deserve to have a choice to die with dignity.
Part I: Argument
The first argument is the right to die with dignity. When an individual is terminally ill they should have the right to choose when suffering has become intolerable. The concern for their quality of life needs to be respected. A terminally ill person is one who is dying from a disease is usually given less than six months to live (Kinckerbocker, 2007). It is extremely difficult for the patient and their family to understand and accept what road lies ahead. The patient may want to feel in control of their life and may choose to die without suffering immense pain and anguish.
The Oregon and Washington Death with Dignity Acts allows the terminally ill patient the right to choose when they feel suffering has become intolerable. The physician and the patient are protected under this law. The physician is able to respond to the patient and families compassionately and effectively, the law is strictly regulated and monitored (Knickerbocker, 2007). The law ensures the patient is the decision maker and the law requires the patient self-administers the prescribed medication.
There are two types of assisted suicide, which include active and passive assisted suicides (Kluge, 2007). As regards passive assisted suicide, it may be possible when, for example a patient is suffering from a terminal illness disease like HIVE/AIDS and has reached the final stages where recovery is not possible. For this case, the patient’s medication should be discontinued provided he or she has consented to the act, especially when this consent is made available in the form of a will. The same should also be possible when a patient is in a critical condition, and the family members can provide a will written by the patient consenting to the act at the time of his consciousness (Kluge, 2007).
In regard to active assisted suicide, there are conditions, which should be considered as justifying the act. A condition is when a patient is undergoing physical pain that he cannot bear and where death is proven to be inevitable. Where such a patient gives consent by word of mouth to the physician, the physician should be allowed by law to execute his or her patient’s will provided all pain relieving measures are exhausted (Kluge, 2007).
People with terminal illness should be allowed to end their lives because patients who are at the last stages of terminal illnesses face a terrible future ahead of them, including low quality life. The gradual decline of their body functions, the failure of their body organs and their need for artificial life support machines subject them to a lot of suffering. Sometimes, some diseases gradually destroy the brain of these patients. Some medication is necessary to relive the patient’s pain but it leaves them with painful consequences, and they become a burden to their families and society (Hayden, 2009). Considering the above sufferings, it becomes more human to give these patients a chance to choose a way of enhancing their lives, and die with dignity.
Part II: Counter Argument
The arguments against physician suicide being legal have many unresolved issues. Physician assisted suicide should be illegal because it violates…