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Physician Assisted Suicide

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Physician Assisted Suicide

There are thousands of people in the world that are sick and thousands of people that die everyday. Why then would some of those people want to have a physician-assisted suicide? There are different forms of physician-assisted suicide, but all of them end in suicide. The definition of a physician-assisted suicide is, "The voluntary termination of one's own life by administration of a lethal substance with the direct or indirect assistance of a physician" (Medical Dictionary). This assisted suicide is usually done with a lethal injection or an overdose of pills to make the patient fall into a coma and die from there. At the moment, the only state in America that allows physician-assisted suicides is Oregon and even those have to be looked at as special cases by not just he doctor but a staff of people. Assisted suicides are morally wrong and there are other methods that can be used to help with the pain of a terminally ill patient.

Terminally ill patients are people who are told they have less than six months of survival left. When people are told this, they usually get scared and because of the amount of pain they are in, they fall into a depression and would rather die then suffer. When a person is informed they have a terminally ill disease, they go through a series of stages. The stages go in this order, denial, anger, depression, bargaining, and finally acceptance. The third stage is depression and this is where the patient usually wants to die because they feel like there is no hope and there is no reason to live (Keir 59). If people would just help the patient through this time, they would eventually get to the acceptance stage. Sadly though with some, they never reach this point because they have decided suicide is a better way out of their illness. "USA Today has reported that among older people suffering from terminal illnesses who attempt suicide, the number suffering from depression reaches almost 90%" (Balch). This is an extremely high percentage. If people got counseling for their depression than the number of people who would opt for suicide would decline. Even though their terminal disease is not preventable, their depression is. A study done on terminally ill patients concluded that patients who did not have clinical depression had no thoughts of suicide or wished that their death would come any earlier. The patients who were diagnosed with clinical depression wanted their death to come as soon as possible (Balch). There needs to be better counseling for these patients. With better counseling, better decisions can be made on the outcome of their life. Also with counseling, patients can learn to focus on their loved ones and learn to accept their death and live life with the time they have left.

There are religious reasons why suicide is morally wrong. God gives people life and only He can take it away or, at least that is how it should be. When a person takes their life into their own hands and ends it, they are telling God that He made a mistake with them by giving them the disease that they have (Bible 716). Humans are not supposed to play god, which is a sin. Also, one of the Ten Commandments is, thou shall not murder. When a physician assists with a suicide, they are committing murder. Assisted suicide is murder because you are injecting or giving a patient an overdose of a lethal substance. They are helping a patient with their death and in the eyes of the court this can be found as second-degree murder in almost all states except Oregon. Physicians are known as healers. The definition of a physician is "A person who heals or exerts a healing influence" (American Heritage Dictionary). With that definition, when has assisted suicide been a form of healing? This goes against the Hippocratic oath for a physician. All physicians are required to take the oath before they are able to start practicing medicine. In the oath it states, "I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody who asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect" (Edelstein). This specifically states that physicians will not help with suicide. What physicians should be focusing on is pain control. When a person signs a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) form, or when someone decides to take a patient off life support, this is not assisted suicide. This is letting a patient die of natural causes.

There are two different cases that have been a major debate over the past years. The two different cases are the Terri Schaivo case and the case against Dr. Kevorkain. Terri Schaivo was a woman who was mentally disabled, in a vegetative state with minimal response to noises, and was being kept a live through a feeding tube. Terri's husband decided that since there was no hope with her ever recovering, he wanted to carry out her wish by having her feeding tube



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