Whether or not to legalize physician-assisted suicide is a controversial issue debated today. Many people believe that “it is inhumane, cruel and even barbaric to make a suffering person, whose death is inevitable, live longer than he or she wishes” (McCuen 101). The state of Florida should pass an initiative allowing physician-assisted suicide, but for reasons much more logical and rational than it simply being inhumane. One major reason why this initiative should be passed in Florida is that it will relieve our Healthcare programs from spending money that it really needs right now. A large amount of money is spent by Medicare and Florida citizens in keeping the dying alive; this is money that could be used to care for the living. Another important reason why an initiative allowing physician-assisted suicide should be passed is that it will protect Americans’ constitutional rights and liberties. Finally, America lives by the fundamentals of Democracy and majority rule. Passing this law will fulfill the wants of most people. First off, passing this law can greatly help our financially-troubled state’s Medicare program and Healthcare in general.
Healthcare is not cheap. Twenty-two percent of Americans said that between one-hundred and five-hundred dollars a year comes out of their own or their families’ pockets for health care costs; fifteen percent (the next highest percentage) said that over two-thousand dollars a year comes out of their pockets for health care (American 105). A lot of families struggle to continue paying for medication and treatment for terminally ill family members, using money that they need to support themselves and keep themselves healthy. This is a financial burden that can be avoided by allowing physician-assisted suicide (since most people
who feel like they are a burden to their families would most likely choose this option). In addition to money coming straight from their pockets for their own family members, Americans also pay taxes that fund Medicare. “More than half of Medicare spending is for hospital care…” (American 211). This is because of the constant hospitalization and long hospital stays of terminally ill Americans. According to CBS News, Medicare paid fifty billion dollars in hospital and doctor bills during the last two months of terminally ill patients’ lives; Dr. Ira Byock told 60 Minutes that “it costs up to $10,000 a day to maintain someone in the intensive care unit” (The Cost). Florida Medicare is in struggles; according to the National Hospice and Palliative care Organization, Florida’s forty-two hospice systems…lost a combined thirty-eight million dollars in Medicare funding in 2010 and hospices nation-wide faced four-hundred million dollars in cuts in 2011 (Azam). These facts clearly show how Medicare is being exhausted, with spending for care for the terminally ill being a big factor to the financial strain, and legalizing PAS could provide a good solution to protecting our depleting funding source.
On another note, the rights and better interests of the patients are just as important as the needs and better interests of society as a whole when it comes to this issue. Here in the United States of America, our citizens have constitutional rights and liberty interests. The Fourteenth Amendment/The Due Process Clause extended fundamental rights of people to include various elements of personal privacy (McKhann 200). The right of independence in making important decisions is therefore given by the Fourteenth Amendment. When and how to die is an extremely important decision that, according to the constitution, should be able to be made by every person if the opportunity to choose is given to them. In Compassion in Dying v. The State of Washington, it was determined by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that the terminally ill have
the constitutionally protected right to determine when and how they want their own death to take place as a liberty interest…