Euthanasia Allows Death With Dignity Essay

1451 words - 6 pages

Every single day, people all over the United States are diagnosed with terminal illnesses. They are forced to wait until they die naturally; all the while their bodies are deteriorated by the illness that will eventually take their lives. Sometimes this means living with insufferable pain and nothing they can legally do about it. People are able to put their pets to sleep when they are suffering; it is even considered the humane thing to do. Why must we live with life ending illnesses and insufferable pain? Physician-assisted suicide should be legalized because people should have the right to end their lives when they choose to and contrary to popular belief, physician-assisted suicide will not leave the presumably vulnerable helpless.
Many fear the legalization of physician-assisted suicide will lead to out of control doctors who take it upon themselves to decide who lives, who dies, and when. Physician-assisted suicide has been practiced in the Netherlands for many years and “there are a substantial number of cases of non-voluntary euthanasia, that is, euthanasia undertaken without the explicit permission of the person being killed” (Lee, 2003). Physicians’ being able to euthanize patients without permission is a terrifying thought, but what these people against the legalization of physician-assisted suicide never mention is the enormous difference between the laws in the Netherlands and the laws in the United States. In the Netherlands doctors are able to administer lethal doses of medication; this gives doctors the control over ending the patients’ life (Baklinski, 2010). Here in the United States where physician-assisted suicide is legal (Oregon, Washington, Montana), physicians are strictly prohibited to administer life ending medications. Lethal medication must be self-administered, “Physicians, family members, and any others are prohibited from administering lethal drugs to terminally ill patients” (Lee, 2003). This provision takes the control out of the doctor’s hands and gives it strictly to the patient, preventing anyone from taking the life of another.
It is thought that the presumed vulnerable would be left helpless if physician-assisted suicide were legalized, though evidence shows this claim is false. People presumed vulnerable to physician assisted suicide are the uninsured, the poor, people with little education, people older than 80, women, people with mental illnesses, people with physical disabilities, minors and racial and ethnic minorities. There is no evidence supporting the claim that any of these groups have been adversely affected since physician-assisted suicide was legalized in Oregon in 1997. Since the law was passed in 1997, 460 patients have died from ingesting physician prescribed medication under the Death with Dignity Act (Department of Human Services, 2010). In 2009 a total of 59 deaths were from physician-assisted suicide; 98.3 percent were white, 48.3 percent had at least a bachelors...

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