Assisted Suicide: A Civil Right or Murder?

Canada Legalizes Assisted Suicide

In Canada, on June 15, a British Columbia Judge ruled that laws banning assisted suicide are unconstitutional in nature. Before now, it has been illegal in Canada to assist any person with suicide. If you were to be found guilty of assisted suicide, you could serve up to 14 years in a Canadian prison.

Assisted Suicide in the States

Countries throughout the world have been dealing with this topic for many years. Those that support it are attempting to improve end-of-life care. Those that are opposed have valid reasons as well. But its importance becomes more noticeable as populations age and more people, with the aid of modern medicine, are able to live for longer periods of time. In the United States, there are only three states where physician assisted suicides are legal; Oregon, Montana, and Washington.

For the remaining states, assisted suicide is illegal and brings with it charges of murder for those who partake. A prime example of this would be the case of Dr. Jack Kevorkian. Throughout the 1990s, Dr. Kevorkian assisted around 40 people with their own suicides. Though it wasn’t until a tape was aired on 60 Minutes of him actually killing a patient himself, that he had charges brought against him. For the aired footage of his assisted suicide, Dr. Kevorkian served 8 years in prison.

Requirements for Assisted Suicide in the States

For the three states where assisted suicide is legal, there are requirements that must be met prior to a persons attempt at suicide. The patient must be mentally fit when they make the request for assistance. The patient must be terminally ill, and be diagnosed by two different doctors concluding that the patient has less than 6 moths to live. There must be two eyewitnesses, including one non-related person who is not a doctor, who can confirm the patients’ wishes to be assisted in their suicide. The patient must then re-submit their request after 15 days have passed.

These pre-requisites seem fair; you have to be of a sound mind to conclude you want to die, you have to deathly ill which usually brings unbearable pain along with it, you need eye witnesses to help avoid foul play, and you have to ask for assistance twice to ensure that is what you truly desire. So with a system in place that fairly puts outlines the rules for its use, why then are so many people opposed?

Arguments Against Assisted Suicide

There are legitimate concerns over assisted suicide, and those who are opposed to it agree on many points. Some believe that it would be seen as a quick way to protect patients from inadequate care arrangements, such as those who cannot afford their medication. It would also make real end-of-life reform less likely to continue, as there is now an easy out. It is feared that assisted suicide will create a climate where people will be pressured into it, either by families or doctors. There is also a concern that if a person is terminally ill, their “competence” should come into question, as the laws regarding this are very ambiguous.

American Medical Association Study

In 1997, the AMA did a study on what American think of physician assisted suicide. They found that more than 50% of Americans think physician assisted suicides should be legal. Though, they also found that when these same people are shown that there are alternatives to suicide, such as hospice care and pain control devices, they seem to support suicide less. The study shows that when more information is available, and other options can be chosen, they are less likely to choose the route of suicide.

Arguments For Assisted Suicide

The biggest point for why assisted suicide should be legalized is this; who can tell another person they must live with a terminal illness, when that person no longer cares to endure?

It is the natural born and legal right of every American citizen to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We all know this statement, and most would have a hard time not agreeing with it. But all three of those rights, can explain why we should be allowed and have a means to pursue suicide assistance.

Life: We have the right to life, which must mean we have a right to death as well. As the two go together, without the one, there isn’t the other. If death wasn’t implicit in this, than none of us should have to die. But since we do, if circumstances are unbearable, we should have the ability to end our life with dignity and the respect of our loved ones.

Liberty: We have the right to liberty, which is literally defined as the state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one’s way of life, behavior, or political views. The issue of laws against assisted suicide directly opposes the idea of oppressive restrictions placed upon ones own life and behavior.

Pursuit of Happiness: The right to the pursuit of happiness is also directly, and strongly opposed by those that disregard assisted suicide as a poor means to deal with the terminally ill. If a person can no longer pursue happiness due to a terminal illness, why then force them to endure endless pain until they die?

Conclusion

It’s an odd thing, because those that oppose assisted suicide make valid points about how it can take a downward turn, but that’s only if we let it. Beyond that, the fact remains that some people are imposing their will onto others, in fear of what might happen if they don’t. In the meantime, there are countless people suffering, with a lack of dignity, or a day to call worthwhile.

Being forced to live when you no longer care to seems terribly wrong. There are stories of people who are terminally ill, and can’t seek options for assisted suicide. So they are forced to go about it themselves, which doubtlessly, can end unsuccessfully. These people have made up their minds that they wish to die, and whether we help them or not, they are going to make an attempt at it. So it seems only fair that, rather than force them to do it in an alley behind their house, we offer options and consultation to help and assist them.

The author of this article is Damien S. Wilhelmi, a savvy SEO savant and verbal vindicator. I am writing on behalf of Phil Clark Law in regards to Criminal Defense.

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