With the current medical advances and embracing of scientific innovations in the field of medicine, medical practitioners have come up with new methodologies of saving life. Unlike some decades ago when life supporting machines and life prolonging medicines never existed, currently doctors can help patients prolong their lives until that time that natural death takes their lives.
Although such medical advances have helped to sustain and save life, some medical complications, for example, cancer are incurable. Because of their incurability, patients diagnosed with such complications have to endure extreme pain associated with the complication, as long as they are alive.
In addition to pains, some medical complications, for example, leukemia completely impairs an individual’s immune system; hence, creating avenues for more health complications, which end up leaving individuals in a worse status. Considering this, one primary critical question always arises in the medical profession; to what extent should medical practitioners go in their endeavors of saving life?
That is, in cases of immeasurable pain and extreme suffering, should doctors help patients to terminate their lives when requested?
Considering the intensity of suffering and pain that patients must endure in their vegetative state, the amount of resources that the process of saving “dying” patients use, and the significance of respecting patients’ wishes, it is important for the government to legalize assisted suicide (Weir 77-89).
Just like the issue of making abortion a lawful issue, legalizing assisted suicide is one of the most controversial issues in the present world. The practice involves assisting suffering patients to end their lives whenever they request. Although most countries have illegalized the practice, in some countries, for example, Switzerland the practice is legal under specific-lawfully defined medical conditions.
In the U.S. although legalizing assisted suicide faces much antagonism, the practice is legal and has been practiced successful in some states, for example, Oregon, Washington, and Montana. As per the law governing the practice, doctors only offer a helping hand in ending patient’s lives, when requested to do so and after ascertaining that, there are no external forces making a patient to make such a decision.
In addition, before assisting patients terminate their lives, doctors have to ascertain the mental state of a patient before giving the requested help (Oregon State Public Health Organization 1).
As long as individuals are in their stable state of mind, and there are no external forces compelling patients to seek assistance in ending their lives, there is need for medical practitioners to respect patients’ decisions.
Denying patients the autonomy of making decisions about their lives greatly violates their fundamental freedoms, them being the sufferers; hence understand the kind of pain they are going through. In addition, considering the fact that majority of them never survive at the end, it is important to respect the patients’ decisions.
Yes, medically doctors should do all that is at their disposal to save lives, but what if all their endeavors fail, should they be tied by the principles that govern their practice? It is purely wrong to ascertain that a patient is extremely suffering, cannot survive for long, and deny them their requests.
Although most patients in their vegetative state may have the will and wish of terminating their lives, most of them lack the energy to do so; hence, the tendency of them seeking help (Caplan and Snynder 6-19).
In addition to helping patients alleviate their suffering, maintaining a terminally ill patient requires many resources, which in the end leave many families financially frustrated after the demise of such patients. Yes, families should dedicate everything they have to save their loved one’s lives however, why should a family use all its resources on a life they are very sure they cannot save. Life is holy, no one can deny that, but when it comes to terminally ill patients, it is important to let them rest as they wish.
On the other hand, although assisted suicide is an illegal practice, this has not prevented some medical practitioners from helping their patients end their lives. Therefore, to avoid doctors taking advantage of patients’ conditions and end their lives prematurely, it is important for the government to legalize suicide killing (Doyal and Doyal 1079-1080).
Although the argument by antagonists of assisted suicide that, the practice is unethical, and that by legalizing the practice, most, terminally ill patients’ lives, for example, those under medical care, the disabled, and elderly will be at risk, as the law will give doctors the an autonomous control over patient’s lives may be right, the argument lacks a logical basis.
That is, assisted suicide follows specific guidelines, which are lawfully determined. Hence, any breaching of the law by medical practitioners is prosecutable in a court of law. In addition, as per the law, doctors have to ascertain a patient’s mental condition, motivations behind the decision, and after consulting widely, that is the only time a doctor can assist patients end their lives (Drickamer, Lee and Ganzini 1).
In conclusion, considering the suffering that most terminally ill individuals have to endure, the cost incurred in prolonging a patient’s lives, it is important to respect a patient’s decisions, by offering help whenever they request. In addition, hospitals and families can use resources and funds used in saving un-savable lives to preserve other lives, or use the funds in other developmental projects.
Caplan, Arthur, and Snyder, Lois. Assisted suicide: finding a common ground. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 2002. Web. 5 July. 2010.
Doyal, Len and Doyal, Lesley. Why active euthanasia and physician assisted Suicide should be legalized. BMJ, 323 (2001): 1079-1080. Web. 5 July. 2010.
Drickamer, Margaret, Lee, Melinda, and Ganzini, Linda. Practical issues in Physician Assisted suicide. Annals of Internal Medicine. 2010. Web. 5 July. 2010.
Oregon State Public Health Organization. FAQS about the death with dignity act. Oregon State Public Health Organization, 10 May. 2010. Web. 21 July. 2010.
Weir, Robert. Physician-assisted suicide. Indiana: Indiana University Press, 1997. Web. 5 July. 2010.