Phillip Presswood, M.A.
English 104 - 407
25 October 2014
The concept of assisted suicide may seem twisted to those who do not understand. It may seem wrong for someone to end the life of another person upon their request. The problem with this is that some cannot bring death upon themselves due to disease or illness that prevents them from doing so. These situations are either fixed or prolonged with or without the practice of assisted suicide.
Assisted suicide is brought on by a lethal drug, gun, or other means provided by someone other than the person requesting it. It is called suicide instead of murder because the person requesting it is wishing death upon them but doesn’t wish to or cannot do it by him or herself. In Claire Andre and Manuel Velazquez’s article entitled “Assisted Suicide: A Right or a Wrong?”, they explore the idea of assisted suicide and the moral issues associated with it. They begin their article by introducing a man named Matthew Donnelly. Matthew had a severe case of skin cancer that caused the loss of “his nose, his left hand, two fingers on his right hand, and part of his jaw. He was left blind and was slowly deteriorating”(Andre and Velazquez). Matthew had ben given a year to live and he wanted to die. His requests were not fulfilled and his brother ended up bringing a gun to the hospital “And shot and killed his brother”(Andre and Velazquez). According to the two, the advances being made in medicine equip physicians with the power to “save more lives than was possible in the past” and given us “the means to cure or to reduce the suffering of people afflicted with diseases that were once fatal or painful”(Andre and Velazquez). However, for those whose pain cannot be relieved or whose illness not cured, there is not much that can be done to help. That is where the idea of assisted suicide comes into play. Andre and Velazquez state that “Californians are now being asked to support an initiative, entitled the Humane and Dignified Death Act, that would allow a physician to end the life of a terminally ill patient upon the request of the patient, pursuant to properly executed documents”(Andre and Velazquez). This push towards a way for suffering patients to be let free is a major step forward in the medical world but holds a major moral conflict. Andre and Velazquez insist “supporters of legislation legalizing assisted suicide claim that all persons have a moral right to choose freely what they will do with their lives as long as they inflict no harm on others”(Andre and Velazquez). This statement introduces the idea that the choice one makes to end their life is entirely their own to exercise, but when one’s handicap prevents that action, they call upon someone else to do it for them. This issue is one of moral difficulty and even though the person wishing to die should have their requests respected, there is an issue of if it is right to intervene. It is also stated “we ourselves have an obligation to relieve the suffering of our fellow human beings and to respect their dignity…it is cruel and inhumane to refuse their pleas”(Andre and Velazquez). This view on the issue of assisted suicide shows that it would be cruel to not end the suffering of one who cannot stand to be alive and cannot do it on their own. On the other hand, “those who oppose any measures permitting assisted suicide argue that society has a moral duty to preserve all life”(Andre and Velazquez). These people believe that you would be disrespectful by going through with ending the life of someone who wishes to die. They believe that the situation could get out of hand very easily if assisted suicide was legal. They pose the question “If assisted suicide is allowed on the basis of mercy or compassion, what will keep us from "assisting in" and perhaps actively urging, the death of anyone whose life we deem worthless or