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Physician Assisted Suicide Policy

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TITLE: Should physician-assisted suicide be legalized nationally?

Central Theme: To persuade my audience that physician-assisted suicide should be an option offered to terminally ill patients.

Specific Purpose: The Death with Dignity Act is working very well in Oregon. It should be available to all terminally ill United States citizens.

I Introduction

Attention Gaining Strategy: I would like to begin my speech with a video clip from youtube. It is a television story which includes an interview with a terminally ill patient by the name of Brian Lovell, who resides in Portland, Oregon. He is considering physician-assisted suicide and this is what he has to say about the decision he is choosing to make. SHOW VISUAL AID.

1. As Lovell mentioned, he is a terminally ill patient. In healthcare, to be considered terminally ill, a patient must be diagnosed with an illness that is expected to end the patient’s in 6 months or less. (7) In this case, Lovell was diagnosed with terminal colon cancer that was rapidly spreading throughout his body. The stress involved with terminal illness is agonizing. Not only did Lovell have to cope with an inevitable fate that would eventually take its course in under 6 months, but he also had to cope with knowing that those last 6 months would be full of pain, exhaustion, and suffering for both him and his family.

2. It is important for all of us to understand why it is necessary to nationally legalize physician-assisted suicide. Our rights as citizens are being denied. In the United States Constitution, the 9th Amendment states, “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be constructed to deny or disparage others retained by the people (1).” This Amendment basically means that even though certain rights are identified in the United States Constitution, those that are not mentioned should not be disregarded. This text, limits the government’s power over the citizens’ rights. It is apparent that the 9th Amendment protects American citizens’ right to physician-assisted suicide. It makes no sense as to why the United States government has neglected to legalize physician-assisted suicide throughout the nation. It is our right as citizens to be able to choose our time of death if we become terminally ill.

3. It is with that notion that I would like to present to you my ideal policy for physician-assisted suicide on a national level. Throughout my speech I will be addressing the patient guidelines that associate with legalized physician-assisted suicide and the importance of a psychiatric analysis. It is with these guiding principles that my policy with ultimately strengthen.

Transition: Just as a quick reminder, the Death with Dignity Act guarantees terminally ill citizens of Oregon the right to choose physician-assisted suicide as a mean to end their lives. The Death with Dignity Act’s guidelines are very strict and prevent the possibility of error.

II. Body

A. First Main Point: The national physician-assisted suicide policy would revolve around these guidelines which were established by Oregon’s government.

1. Sub-point: To prevent error, Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act includes many crucial guidelines that hospitals must adhere to before physicians are permitted to arrange the termination of a patient. Designed to protect the doctor and the patient, the strict guidelines ensure an accurate diagnosis and prevent any pressure the patient may experience (6). Statistics, from Oregon’s government website, prove that the Death with Dignity Act is moving in a positive direction in that it is not being abused and is rather being utilized by patients who are putting genuine and educated thought into ending their lives (5).

2. Sub-point: The following guidelines are set out by the Death with Dignity Act and could be easily transferred to a larger scale if physician-assisted suicide was legalized on a national level. In order to be qualified, a patient must be diagnosed, by a physician, with a terminal illness that will end his life within 6 months. The patient must then request in writing that the physician give him a fatal prescription to end his life. I believe it to be a good idea for the patient to request physician-assisted suicide in writing because it helps the patient to avoid pressure from any third parties like family members or the physician. The patient, and only the patient, should be able to make this important decision regarding his life. Two witnesses must then validate the patient’s written request and one of the witnesses can have no relation to the patient. By having no relation hospitals will be evading any biased consideration to accept the patient as a candidate for physician-assisted suicide. This will help to prevent error and once again, help the patient to avoid pressure from third parties. It is mandatory that another physician also discusses and confirms that the patient has no other option but physician-assisted suicide. Patients must free of any mental conditions which could potentially impair the patient’s ability to be fully aware of his actions. If the request is approved the patient is asked to wait at least 15 days and make another oral request to his physician. The purpose of this final step to the guidelines is to ensure physician-assisted suicide is something the patient is very serious about. The time gives the patient the opportunity to think over the decision he is about to make and will ultimately help him make a more educated choice. (4)

Transition: Each of these steps are very important in maintaining a strict policy and will prevent physician-assisted suicide from evolving into euthanasia.

B. Second Main Point: As I stated a moment ago, a patient must be free of any mental conditions which could impair judgment. Psychiatric analysis will be mandatory to all patients seeking physician-assisted suicide.

1. Sub-point: Clearly, if physician-assisted suicide is legalized, mental health professionals must play an important role in the evaluation of patients. Currently the importance of psychiatric evaluation in Oregon is overlooked. In the policy I am proposing it will hold a very significant position in the deciding factor for a patient to be granted the ability to utilize physician-assisted suicide.

2. Sub-point: In Oregon, the importance of psychiatric analysis is thought to be a process that the hospitals stress,



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