Imagine lying in a hospital bed hooked up to all kinds of different machines. Doctors and nurses constantly entering the room to check up on you while you try to capture what little sleep you can muster through the pain. On top of the pain, you are suffering side effects from countless drugs. Breathing becomes an unbearable process. You have lost your appetite because you are constantly nauseated or throwing up. Doctors have given you no hope of survival; therefore, death is imminent. You have had your goodbyes and have come to terms with your death.
In today's society, one of the most controversial issues is physician-assisted suicide for the terminally ill. Many people feel that it is wrong for people, regardless of their health condition, to ask their health care provider to end their life; while others feel it is their right to be able to choose how and when they die (Barrett). When a physician is asked to help a patient into die, they have many responsibilities that come along with a single question. Among those responsibilities are: providing valid information on the terminal illness that the patient is suffering from, educating the patient as to what their final options may be, deciding whether to help the patient and lastly, if they do decide to help, providing the lethal dose of medication that will end the patient’s life (Barrett). Because physician-assisted suicide alleviates familial suffering, it can be built to have reasonable laws which protects against its abuse and the value of human life, and alleviates patient suffering nearing the end of their life, physician-assisted suicide should be legalized.
Some are probably thinking what exactly is physician assisted suicide? Well as defined by Michael Manning, MD, author, defined physician-assisted suicide in his 1998 book Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide: Killing or Caring?, physician assisted suicide is “a physician providing medications or other means to a patient with the understanding that the patient intends to use them to commit suicide.” Basically the doctor provide the means which is usually a medicine which provides a sedative like effect to the patient, and the patient is the one that performs the act of ending their life. This is different from euthanasia where the physician is the one who provides and administers the drug that ends the life of the patient with a painful or incurable disease, which is also called a mercy killing.
The alleviation of familial suffering is one of the vital reasons for why physician-assisted suicide should be legalized. Family and friends of the terminally ill often suffer psychologically as well as emotionally because of the patient’s suffering. According to Joe Messerli, a graduate from University of Wisconsin-Whitewater with degrees in Finance and Management Computer System, when a patient dies, it is sudden and there may not be enough time to say goodbye, but with physician assisted suicide, families and the patient can say their goodbyes in a healthy and less stressful way (Messerli). Moreover, consider the cost of keeping a dying patient alive for several months, x-rays, lab tests, drugs, hospital overhead, and medical staff salaries (Messerli). It is not unheard of for medical costs to equal $50,000-100,000 to keep patients alive (Messerli). Physician-assisted suicide helps keep a financial burden off the caregivers of the terminally ill patient. In addition, some patients want to be able to leave their children or grandchildren with inheritance money (Messerli). Furthermore, patients without physician-assistance may be tempted to commit suicide in a traumatic way, traumatizing the family for a long time (Messerli).
Another vital reason for why physician-assisted suicide should be legalized is because physician-assisted suicide can be constructed to have reasonable laws which still protect against its abuse and the value of human life. The physician-assisted suicide laws