Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide
The topic of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide has gotten extremely popular in the last few years because of the struggles present with social, ethical, religious, and legal debates. Along with the aging of the population and progress in medicine, a specific number of very sick people are kept alive, thanks to various techniques, which creates an inconsistent boundary between life and death. The difference between euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide depends on the way that the action is performed. Euthanasia is when the physician administers the lethal medication, while physician-assisted is when the patient gives the medication to his or herself as recommended by a physician.
The topic of putting one to death per their wish is extremely complicated. It is very easy to be one-sided and ignore any other opinions that may be out there. For example, Sandy Macleod believes that “Medical practitioners do not have the knowledge and expertise to participate competently and reliably in selecting those fit to be offered euthanasia and assisted suicide.” Although this may be true, there is no reason why that cannot be changed. Physicians go through more schooling than almost any other area of expertise, so there is no reason that they would not be capable of learning more about euthanasia and assisted suicide. Because it is just being introduced into the medical world for humans, physicians are not familiar enough with the procedure. Learning about the new procedure could easily become a part of their curriculum in medical school.
Even though physicians are the ones administering the lethal medicine, it is the ones who are receiving it that are the most important. Macleod does not mention anyone but the doctors, even thought they are only one of many whom euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide effect. It is a much more dignified way of dying for those who are terminally ill regardless of whether the physician is an expert or not. Ending the pain and suffering is the main concern of the patient receiving the medicine and their family. Ultimately, it is up to the patient to decide what they want to do. If a dignified death is what they want, then that is what they should have. The physician’s knowledge and expertise should not affect that in any way.
Ira Byock, author of “We Should Think Twice about ‘Death with Dignity,’” shares a similar view. In her article, Byock states “Death with dignity implies that frail or physically dependent people aren’t already dignified. But they are. People who are disabled or facing life’s end can be cared for in ways that allow them to feel respected, worthy and valued.” Although they may be cared for in the best way possible, that will not change the deterioration of their quality of life. If a person who has been independent their whole life is suddenly diagnosed with a disease that takes that away from them, no amount of comfort from their family, friends, or physicians is going to change their fate. With the implication of euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide, the terminally ill should be the ones to decide if they can handle it or not.
As mentioned before, many people forget in the heat of this debate that the most important stakeholder is the one who is choosing to end their life. It is referred to as “death with dignity” because they are ultimately making the decision instead of having to live with the disease that has taken over their lives and will eventually take their life. A dignified existence certainly should not mean a life of unbearable misery caused by incurable physical or psychological ailment. No amount of dignity or comfort can change the anticipation of dying at any moment. Euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide at least allow them to have some control of their life.
This is also such a debatable topic because it is hard to see what is going on from the outside looking in. In other words, unless you or someone close to you has been diagnosed with a terminally ill disease, it is hard to imagine what it is like and what the mentally and physically effects would be. Some people also forget that the legalization only gives the patient an option. If they wanted to choose to be a fighter and stick it out the whole way through until the very end, no one is stopping them. On the other hand, not everyone is that strong and can handle all the medications, hospital visits, healthcare bills, and so on.
The picture below demonstrates what seems to be a wife leaning over her husband who is sick in a hospital bed. It is basically stating that if you care about a family member or friend that is suffering, they should be able to end that suffering. Lying in a bed, waiting to die, is not living. With euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide, someone in a similar situation can easily be put out of their misery. In the end, it would be easier on everyone, especially the family and friends.
Ultimately, laws based around euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide centralizes around human rights and ethics. Any issue that concerns human life is vital of the attention of society. Patients who are terminally ill and living in agony with irreversible circumstances that cause intolerable suffering can benefit from the relief of euthanasia. Although there are many sides to this debate and many different stakeholders, the most important and valued opinion should always be the patient. The patient is the one deciding on whether than can endure the suffering or not. Overall, the knowledge the doctor does or doesn’t have or how much comfort the patient is surrounded by is insignificant compared to the poor quality of life they are cursed with. The patient should have the decision and should be able to die with dignity if that is what they choose.
Byock, Ira. “We Should Think Twice about ‘Death with Dignity'” LA Times. 30 Jan. 2015. Web. 27 Feb. 2015.
Diaconescu, Amelia Mihaela. “Euthanasia.” Contemporary Readings in Law and Social Justice 4.2 (2012): 474-83. ProQuest. Web. 15 Feb. 2015.
Macleod, Sandy. “Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Death.” The New Zealand Medical Journal (Online) 125.1367 (2012): 127-31. ProQuest. Web. 2 Mar. 2015.