Euthanasia Persuasive Essay
If a person is terminally ill, their illness will be the cause of their death no matter how much treatment is received. Certain illnesses and diseases cause a lot of pain such as Ebola hemorrhagic fever, pancreatic cancer, and Lesch-Nyhan syndrome. Radiation treatments for cancer cause patients suffering from that disease to experience a great deal of pain also. Sometimes the pain from terminal illnesses or diseases is too unbearable for the patient to want to live, and they want to be released from the illness’ painful clutch. Euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide are two ways to end the life of a person.
Euthanasia is the act or practice of killing or permitting the death of hopelessly sick or injured individuals (as persons or domestic animals) in a relatively painless way for reasons of mercy (Merriam-Webster), also defined by the Oxford dictionary as the painless killing of a patient suffering from an incurable and painful disease or in an irreversible coma. In places where euthanasia is allowed, it is only legal when it is voluntary active euthanasia, or the intentionally administering medication or other interventions to cause patient’s death at the explicit request and with fully informed consent.
Physician-assisted suicide is suicide by a patient facilitated by means (as a drug prescription) or by information (as an indication of a lethal dosage) provided by a physician aware of the patient’s intent (Merriam-Webster). For terminally ill patients, this is an outlet for their suffering in life, which is very advantageous to the person. Euthanasia and physician- Hughes 2 assisted suicide should be legalized for all terminally ill patients who have these options available to them.
The issue of legalizing euthanasia and/or physician-assisted suicide has created a large debate among many people throughout the world including residents and medical professionals. There are many pros to the legalization, but many people are also strongly against it and think it would cause more problems than it would solve. For many terminally ill, they are devoid of simple pleasures, and functional capability, while also suffering pain and long hours of consciousness of the hopelessness of their state (Asch).
However, choosing life or death is a personal decision and those who are suffering should be able to choose to end their life. If placed in the terminal disease situation, opponents to euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide would not want to spend their last days on earth suffering or even eventually becoming a vegetable. “The ingestion of a controlled substance in order to accelerate death may spare the terminally ill patient much suffering, both physical pain and the anguish that, for some, accompanies helplessness and dependence,” (Dick and Lindsey).
States should think of ways to make sure the terminally ill do not suffer but not make doctors have to assist in their death (Appel). However, as of the society of America right now, that is not possible. There are many arguments against euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide. A loss of trust between the ill person at hand and the doctor treating them is a small one. A sense of security in the patients’ doctors is argued, but some people have killed themselves in an early stage of illness because of fear that they would not have assistance later if wanted or needed (Rogatz).
However, physicians are supposed to cure patients and alleviate pain and suffering. If Hughes 3 the patient thinks attempts at curing outweigh benefits, they should still help them but also try to stop suffering and pain (Dick and Lindsey). One of the only places on Earth to legalize physician-assisted suicide is the state of Oregon with a Death with Dignity Act. However, Oregon residents have a peace of mind knowing that if it came down to needing physician-assisted death, they would have it available (Dick and Lindsey).
For doctors, a main concern with euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide (PAS) is the Hippocratic Oath taken in medical school, which says to do no harm (Rogatz). However, disconnecting a ventilator is not seen as murder when the physician does it but prescribing medication that the patient chooses to request and then take is considered harm and murder. Also today, the Hippocratic Oath in its original form is only issued in one medical school in the country. It is argued that patients requesting help with hastening death come mostly from those who have not been treated or diagnosed properly (Asch). There is a growing awareness that loss of dignity and of those attributes that we associate particularly with being human are the factors that most commonly reduce patients to a state of unrelieved misery and desperation,” (Rogatz). It would be to the doctor’s discretion and expertise to diagnose and treat the patient to the best of their ability, and the patient could seek assistance from another doctor if looking for more treatment. Fourth, some people do not believe that there are not enough requests to change the law. However, requests are not recorded and a study has shown many physicians have received at least one (Winget).
The slippery slope argument is also a strong belief for opponents to Hughes 4 euthanasia and PAS. Summarized, they are as follows. 1. The patient must have an incurable condition causing severe, unrelenting suffering. 2. The patient must understand his or her condition and prognosis, which must be verified by an independent second opinion. 3. All reasonable palliative measures must have been presented to and considered by the patient. 4. The patient must clearly and repeatedly request assistance in dying. 5. A psychiatric consultation must be held to establish if the patient is suffering from a treatable depression. 6.
The prescribing physician, absent a close preexisting relationship (which would be ideal) must get to know the patient well enough to understand the reasons for her or his request. 7. No physician should be expected to violate his or her own basic values. A physician who is unwilling to assist the patient should facilitate transfer to another physician who would be prepared to do so. 8. All of the foregoing must be clearly documented. (Rogatz). By creating requirements to be met before PAS could be received, this would solve the slippery slope argument. Another major argument against euthanasia and PAS is the abuse of these rights.
The use of lethal prescribed drugs by physicians has not been used much or gotten out of control (in Oregon, where PAS is legal) (Dick and Lindsay). In Oregon, there have been about seventy people who took advantage of the law, and “almost all of these seventy patients had health insurance, most were on hospice care, and most were people with at least some college education,” (Asch). Also, it is ultimately up to the patient who receives the prescription whether or not to take it so they are in full control and make the final decision, and only a small portion of those who received PAS raised concerns about the cost (Asch). Hughes 5
Euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide are personal decisions that should be made when life for the patient is unbearable. Overall, it is a positive choice for terminally ill patients and is sometimes a better option for them than living. The arguments against euthanasia and PAS are not very strong. Most of those opposed to it also have never been terminally ill and do not know how it feels to want to end your life because of a painful illness or disease. Euthanasia and PAS should be legalized to be provided by physicians to those terminally ill to help end the pain and suffering and low enjoyment of life for those patients.