As American citizens, we are guaranteed certain indisputable rights, defined in the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” Yet, thousands of terminally ill patients are being denied these essential democratic rights as they determine end of life care. Doctor assisted suicide is an unalienable entitlement involving management of life, the attainment of liberty from debilitating diseases, and the pursuit of happiness despite current suffering. However, forty-eight states violate the Declaration of Independence that is essential to American beliefs and values, by prohibiting the dignified and peaceful death offered by doctor assisted suicide. Doctor assisted suicide should be legalized nationally and internationally as an option for terminally ill patients to tranquilly end a life of suffering and anguish with necessary physician supervision. Patients suffering from excruciating and incapacitating illnesses, with a predicted lifespan of six months or less, have little or no control over their deaths. Unlike patients who enter a persistent vegetative state and have previously established a living will, terminally ill patients who are mentally lucid, yet ravaged by extreme pain and disability, cannot peacefully end their incapacitated lives in most of America. Only the states of Oregon and Washington have passed the critical Death with Dignity Act, which legalizes doctor assisted euthanasia. According to the 2010 report on Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act, ninety-six prescriptions of lethal overdoses were filled, resulting in fifty-nine deaths due to ingestion. The most frequently mentioned reasons for ending life were loss of independence (93.8%), diminishing ability to partake in enjoyable activities (93.8%), and loss of dignity (78.5%). Due to information gleaned by mandatory patient surveys before death, it is evident that doctor assisted suicide relieves the suffering patient from anguish caused by degenerative illness.
Qualified, sympathetic physicians are a necessary component of doctor assisted suicide. They are required to corroborate the terminal diagnosis, confirm that the patient is devoid of mental illness, prescribe an overdose or lethal injection, administer the toxin, and ultimately ease the patient’s expedient death. Doctors have medical expertise concerning toxic drugs and the manner in which they react with human bodies. Such knowledge is essential to administering lethal injection or overdose in order to provide a rapid and controlled death. Of the Oregon deaths under the Death With Dignity Act, only 9.4% were completed in the presence of the prescribing physician, accounting for two patients who unintentionally regurgitated the toxic overdose and later perished of the illness they unsuccessfully attempted to escape. In addition, statistics demonstrate two and a half days can transpire at maximum before a patient succumbs to medicine overdose, without the presence of doctors. Physicians are essential to ending the patient’s life rapidly and effectively. Also, the Death With Dignity Act mandates follow-up questionnaires and a death certificate, which are difficult to comprehend without the aid of an experienced physician. With physician oversight, exiting a life of agony is systematic, smooth, and precise.
It is extremely unethical to condemn a suffering patient to a prolonged and anguished life when the patient’s preference is a dignified death. The opposition to death with dignity alleges that euthanasia is murder, despite the patient’s request, and doctor assisted suicide is an attempt to rid society of unwanted and burdensome patients. According to Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary, murder is defined as, “the killing of another human being…committed with malice aforethought...” Ending