Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide

In a documentary, Charles Scott was a man who loved to read, sing, and enjoy being outdoors. He was diagnosed with lymphoma. Struggling every day just to breathe after walking 10 steps to the bathroom and dealing with his eyesight deteriorating, He found life to be full of pain instead of joy.

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He found no want in having to wait through multiple medications, operations, pain, hospice, and finally him dying suffocating trying to catch his breath” he wished to die (Real Stories: Physician-Assisted Death.). This story is the reason I believe that euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide should be legal because of human rights, dying with dignity, and financial benefits. Charles told his family, finally convincing them day by day his body is going to go through torture without getting better. The family understood, especially his closest brother Richard. After Charles’s primary doctor said he would not fulfill this request. Charles was referred to two doctors by the people at a senior care center. He was told they would perform the act of prescribing a medication. When Charles told them with no hesitation this is what he wanted, the doctored prescribed the medication. Richard went pharmacy to pharmacy trying to find someone who would fill the prescription until finally, he got it. The pharmacist gave him a prescribed sedative called Seconal, which is the medication that is usually diagnosed to people with insomnia; the pharmacist told Richard he would need to help Charles empty the capsules in a cup of water. Charles finally got to die with dignity (Real Stories: Physician-Assisted Death.). In America, there are only 7 states out of 50 that have legalized physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia (California, Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and finally The District of Columbia) Montana has just legalized PAS (physician-assisted suicide).

Around the world countries like Belgium, Colombia, and Germany have legalized just euthanasia. Switzerland has legalized physician-assisted suicide. Luxembourg, The Netherlands, and Canada have even legalized both euthanasia and PAS. Yet, we are still on an icy slope of if PAS and euthanasia should be legalized. For some, there is a confusion between what euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide is and what the difference is between the two. Euthanasia a physician giving a lethal injection to end the patient’s life. Physician-assisted suicide, on the other hand, is when a physician prescribes a medication that will lead to ending the patient’s life. The first, human rights. Not giving someone who is terminally ill the choice to choose when and where to die should be a human right. In multiple occasions, terminally ill people are in the hospital hurting mentally and physically, wanting to be out of their misery. They decide to voluntarily stop eating and drinking; this is known by the hospital by VSED. Mind you the hospitals believe this is acceptable to do. They will not force you to eat nor drink if you decide this. Is this humane over euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide? Most people who believe PAS and euthanasia are inhumane are also the people who don’t look at VSED in their debating topics. On the website Pros and Cons, there are multiple debating points that are for and against PAS and euthanasia. None of these cons bring up VSED in their debate against this topic. What is fascinating is the pros don’t bring VSED up either. I believe most people either find this acceptable or don’t know enough about it. If people did understand more about this topic, I believe this could potentially persuade the cons into thinking PAS and euthanasia are more acceptable and more humane than VSED. Some people who fight against this procedure say that ending someone’s life is homicide or suicide, not a human right. With some, terminally ill people take their own life by any means necessary because they don’t have the human right to do it medically. People fighting against PAS and euthanasia may also say the person with a terminal illness is being taken advantage of because they are weak minded. In the Oregon act, it says if the physician believes that patient’s thoughts are being impaired by a disorder or depression they must prescribe counseling instead of the end-of-life medication. They will not prescribe the medication until they are told the patient is no longer impaired. This shows that the hospitals don’t just have physical requirements but mental ones. This would take away the argument of taken advantage of the patient.

Another thing I would like to mention is, nobody should have the ability to determine what someone else should do with their own body. Restricting someone to multiple medications, surgeries, and medical treatment that could be painful for what could feel like an eternity without getting better is gruesome. In article 3 of the universal declaration, it is said nobody shall go through torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Yet, putting someone in purgatory with their terminal illness is cruel and torturous by itself. Not giving someone the right to die but instead making the patient live in pain or on an infinite high so much so they don’t even know themselves or what’s happening, dealing with people bathing them, and having to have assistance to even go to the bathroom (if they can even walk) is inhumane and degrading. The patients don’t even have the right to escape by dying with dignity, this should be a breach of article 3 in the universal declaration. The next thing would be PAS and euthanasia could be a financial help. Something everybody can agree with is our insurance in America is a mess. We pay too much for medical care whether it is a blister that needs to be looked at or trying to potentially save a human life. The procedures and medication it takes to keep someone alive is drastic. Let’s take someone who has cancer, for example, the patient or a family member would have to pay for lab tests that could cost 3,000 dollars or more, chemotherapy which could estimate to cost up to 30,000 dollars or more, imaging test that has various different prices that could start at 55 dollars and exceed 2,048 dollars, hospital stays, drug cost, and home cost. Now picturing that you don’t have insurance, like the 44 million people in America, that cost would most likely double or triple. Procedures and drugs not only put a financial strain on the patient, but it might even hurt the family as well if they are trying to help keep their relative alive. The bills will add up and add up until finally either the money runs out or the patient’s life does.

Most patients/ family members who have someone with a terminal illness understand they could have all the money in the world and the outcome is still going to be the same. Whether the medical bills stack up to 24 months of pain and suffering or 15 years the person is still going to pass away with more stress than was needed. So, why do we let terminally ill people go through more than what they already must? How is this more acceptable than letting a patient get euthanized and PAS like they wanted? One story that is very awful to think about is about a woman named Liza Bernstein, she was diagnosed with breast cancer 3 times. She no longer has a house, savings, credit, or much of anything except for her family and friends. She has been doing small jobs and couch surfing just to survive. She is actually lucky since most who have a terminal illness could end up worse. Most terminally ill people don’t get the chance to go into remission. Lastly, dying with dignity, people who have a terminal illness usually don’t get the choice of going home and dying with the people they care about around them all the time. Instead, they deal with the embarrassment of a nurse helping get rid of their waste in a hospital bed, bathing them, and dealing with people going by their rooms looking in while they are at the worst moments of their lives. For example, Gloria was a woman in Canada who suffered from ALS, which is a nervous system disease that progressively weakens the nerves until they are gone. This could have someone end up in their bed not being able to move their body at all struggling to breathe, some cannot even talk. People diagnosed with ALS usually have life spans from 2-5 years. Gloria went through pain saying no to narcotics because she was worried about getting addicted. She decided she wanted to be able to determine when she was going to die. She didn’t want to die struggling to breathe in a hospital. Gloria got her wish to have a peaceful and glorified death. This is just one story that shows what dying with dignity can do to help the terminally ill people and their families. Sadly, many terminally ill people do not have this choice of dying with dignity.

Instead, they deal with pain and suffering. They end up trying to commit suicide by doing anything they can, maybe even pleading for someone to do it for them. The pain and suffering that goes into terminal illness is endless. What most people fail to realize is that pain and suffering are not the same. Pain is physical and objective, most people can measure pain levels. Suffering, on the other hand, is torture. There is no measurement system that could measure suffering. Since the 1980’s life expectancy has gone up from living up to 70 years old now in 2018 the life expectancy could live up to 80 years old. Scientist are providing medication that is more effect and helps keep our mind and bodies cured or stable. This could be a great thing to see when it comes to healthy people. Yet, when it comes to the terminally ill this could be awful. The fact there is not much of a cure, medication seems to be there just to keep them in a stable yet jailed body. This could mean a woman like Gloria even though her life would be cut shorter than most. She might have lived with increased pain for longer that 2-5 years like told. In a 2016 survey, that collected data from California and Hawaii, most elderly people said they would not want this procedure done. It’s made to believe that most baby boomers that are getting older are against PAS and euthanasia. I believe most baby boomers though were raised to believe a certain way. Not to say they are brainwashed by any means, but I believe if they were in a terminally ill body or researched this topic they would most likely change their minds. What many people in the world fail to do is put their self in the shoes of others. People who refuse to even look at euthanasia or PAS shows how people don’t care unless they see it or feel it. So, I would like to put you in a terminally ill persons body¦figuratively of course.

You are currently 62 years old. Realizing you don’t remember where you put your keys you tear up the house just to notice they were sitting on the counter, you passed maybe 50 times. Knowing this is probably just natural with ageing you don’t worry about it. 3 months go by and you are now getting concerned. You start asking your coworkers how to do things at work. They look at you confused and help but you hear some tell you that you’ve done this action multiple times, but you don’t recall doing it. Then you start having trouble finding the right words to communicate with. It’s on the tip of your tongue but you don’t remember what the word is you are trying to say. This is not normal, you go to the hospital and talk about what is happening to the best of your knowledge. The doctor prescribes that you take some tests. He tells you these tests look at your behavioral skills, memory, and functions. After a while your results come back, you are told you have dementia. Two years go by and your family and friends notice something is off. You are way more forgetful than usual. Your cousin talks about her marriage, when you ask why you weren’t invited she says you were. Expressing your thoughts is becoming a challenge. You go to the doctor and they do the test again this time you are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. You get a caregiver, as the days pass you are growing weaker and weaker. Struggling to brush your hair, bathe, dress, and even prepare meals by yourself so your caregiver must do it for you. You are now almost consistently bedridden and taking prescriptions that you don’t even remember the names to. You progressively get worse until finally you can no longer control when you go to the bathroom, you see people in your house that you don’t recognize but they seem to recognize you, lastly your caregiver must physically bathe you. On top of this people with Alzheimer’s suffer with delusions and agitation. You are now in your bed, seeing someone looking down at you but not knowing who they are. They tell you it is time for your medication. You try to ask, what medication? Yet, when you try to ask it just seems to come out as a gargling noise. This is what many people with Alzheimer’s must go through and what their family must witness. Instead of living a fulfilling life and dying with their family and friends by their side they die not even knowing their spouses or children’s faces. We put people with Alzheimer’s through literal torture, after what could be years, they evidentially pass away. This is not even including what their families must feel witnessing the person that you love so dearly, can’t even remember your name. All the memories you share with this person now only reside with you and you alone. Imagining your own mother or father looking at you with fear or confusion in their eyes. Not understanding who you are and why they simply can’t just ask what your name is. I don’t know about what most people would think but I believe that is even more painful then losing someone to death.

In conclusion, I believe physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia should be legalized because, in the end, it could help the family and patient financial by not putting them stress over whether they will go into debt or not, it shows that people with terminal illness has the human right to do what they want with their own body, and finally they can die when and where they want to without doing anything horrible to themselves.

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