Should Assisted Suicide be an Option?
Assisted suicide, also known as Euthanasia, is the painless killing of a patient suffering from an incurable and painful disease (terminally ill) or in an irreversible coma. This action is performed with the assistance of a physician or doctor by being injected with lethal drugs, leading to a painless death.
A renowned and well known figure in Europe, Francis Bacon, (1561- 1626) was the first to try this practice and believed, “that the practice of medicine should include [the] knowledge and skill that enable doctors to help patients die peacefully and naturally” (Vanderpool). However, Bacon did not advocate for assisted suicide, instead he believed in the Christian faith, “The ‘sweetest song’ at the time of death, he said, is ‘Nuc dimittis … Lord, now let thy servant depart in peace” (Vanderpool).
How it works
The problem is that public, experienced patients and physicians can not agree on the legality of assisted suicide because majority believe that people deserve the right to decide on whether they want to consider and commit assisted suicide, while others conclude that the legalization of assisted suicide will be the cause of widespread assisted suicide among the terminally ill cases. If the two opposing sides do not find a compromise and/or reach middle ground, then many terminally ill in-patients, trying to rid of their never ending suffering, cannot diminish their pain and discomfort.
An agreement the two conflicting sides may agree upon is compelling the courts to situate boundaries and/or restrictions on the reasonability for how and why a patient may consider commuting assisted suicide. For one requirement, the sickened person should be provided with a mental evaluation, verifying their stability and awareness, so that the assisted suicide is not abused by persons who can be treated. Secondly, if the person is predicted to pass away in six months or earlier, they should be allowed and given this option. Lastly, the courts should make the final decision on whether or not the person is allowed to go commit the assisted suicide.
Firstly, a compromise the two opposing sides could come to is doing a mental evaluation for the terminally ill patients who choose to do assisted suicide. The mental evaluation would happen before the patient goes through with the process of assisted suicide. The mental evaluation would help with reducing the amount of vulnerable patients who go with assisted suicide by determining the true intentions of why the patient would choose to do so.
For example, if a patient is rational enough to come to terms with their illness and has recognized the suffering their illness can bring, then this would be the ideal state of mind. However, if the patient is depressed and is not in the right state of mind to go through with assisted suicide, then they could not do so. This solution could help figure out which patients are the vulnerable and easily manipulated. This can also help reduce the widespread assisted suicide of the vulnerable who are submissive to it, which is what most people are afraid of.
For example, even though this story does not involve a mental evaluation, it shows how a patient could come to terms with their death, This shows how a rational state of mind is needed when dealing with a terminal illness and is why patients should have a mental evaluation: “What he ended up doing was very consciously going about dying with dignity and grace. If this was what he needed to have as an option to be the person he is, we understood. That was okay”(Karaim).
Although, this solution has many strengths and weaknesses. A strength would be that this could really help see if the patient is just trying to be relieved of pain instead of wanting to do so because they are depressed and a weakness being maybe the person is depressed, but they still want to be relieved of pain, not just wanting to die. Even though making the wrong mental evaluation may happen, this should still be considered a reasonable solution to come to because it pleases both sides of the issue while letting terminally ill patients have assisted suicide as an option. This solution also reduces the amount of vulnerable people seeking assisted suicide even though there are efficient methods that can provide them the help they need.
Secondly, another solution that the two opposing sides could come to a agreement upon is if the person is predicted to pass in six months or earlier, they should be allowed this option. This solution could also help reduce the amount of widespread assisted suicide by reducing the amount of patients that have this option available. This solution would work by diagnosing the patients with their illness or state and the amount of time they have to live. Once the patients figure out what their diagnosis is, then they can inform their doctor on whether or not they want consider assisted suicide as an option. This solution has already been implemented for states who have legalized assisted suicide. For example, in the article “How Death with Dignity Laws Work” by the site “Death with Dignity” states under its eligibility rules that, “To qualify for a prescription under physician-assisted dying laws, you must be diagnosed with a terminal illness that will, within reasonable medical judgment, lead to death within six months” (Death with Dignity).
This solution does have some strengths and weaknesses, though. On one hand, a strength for this solution is that it will be able to prevent the widespread use of assisted suicides. While on the other hand, someone who is really hurting, suffering, and in a lot of unbearable pain will be refused the relief of their endless suffering because their diagnosis denies them the ability to consider the option. Although this is a good agreement for the two opposing sides to come to, it is not the best, for it does favor the side going for legalization, it barely favors the opposing side going for assisted suicide to stay illegal because even though it does help prevent the widespread trend of assisted suicide, it does not do much of protecting the vulnerable patients who are predicted to pass away in six months or less.
Third of all, a final solution that could motivate the opposing sides come to a possible agreement is to eliminate the doctors from the decision making process and let the courts handle the decision on whether or not a terminally ill patient is allowed to go through with assisted suicide. This solution could help with knowing the patients made the decision on their own and were not pressured into doing assisted suicide by their doctor. This solution contributes to both sides by allowing assisted suicide and by helping the vulnerable patients make their own decisions so they are not manipulated or pressured into a decision that doesn’t align with their personal experiences.
For example, in the article “The Right to Assisted Suicide” on the website called “Lone Star college” that presents both sides of the issue, explains that “the doctor-patient relationship would encourage distrust” (Lone Star). The same article also explains that, “A terminal patient consenting to assisted suicide knows that a doctor’s job is to relieve pain, and giving consent to that doctor shows great trust” (Lone star).
Which also further points out that if the patients trust their doctor, then they trust the doctor’s thought process, which means the patients could be easily manipulated into choosing to go with assisted suicide to alleviate their pain. Taking the doctors out of the decision making process will help prevent that situation from happening by eliminating the bias the patient has towards the doctor and vice versa. For this solution to come into play though, it needs to be implemented as a law to prohibit doctors from having a say in whether or not a patient decides on assisted suicide.
Having only the courts decide on whether or not a patient can go with assisted suicide does have its strengths and weaknesses like every other possible solution. One strength of the courts being responsible for the decision making process is that it could help prevent manipulation of those who are indecisive. Adding on, one weakness of this solution is that courts and juries could have a biased towards the person, or their opinion could veto that of the patient.
This means that the patient’s own personal opinion will be ignored and they will be forced to keep going through an endless amount of suffering. This solution is not the best, but it could work better than not having an agreement on the issue at all because while it does favor both sides, its weakness also goes along with both sides, meaning that the weakness this solution presents does not give the person the full right to decide on their own like the side that wants assisted suicide to be legal and the side that does not want the issue to be legal because of the vulnerable means that this solution could also contribute to manipulation of the vulnerable even though the doctor is out of the decision making, it does not eliminate all manipulation.
Finally, the best agreement for the two opposing sides to come to is a combination of the mental evaluation and if the person is predicted to pass away in six months or earlier. Meaning that a patient who is going to pass away in six months or less is allowed the option of assisted suicide but if they choose this option then they would need to go through a mental evaluation first. This solution is the best solution because it could help reduce the amount of abuse of the option by vulnerable patients while making sure the ones who choose this option are doing it for the right reasons and help reveal why a person makes the choices they make. This solution favors both sides of the issue by making assisted suicide available all the while eliminating the chances of a widespread trend of vulnerable patients of being manipulated into assisted suicide.
In conclusion, assisted suicide should be legal because it could help terminally ill patients be relieved of their endless pin suffering. Three solutions that could help the two opposing sides of assisted suicide come to an agreement is: a person should be provided with a mental evaluation for the patient who chooses this option so that the assisted suicide is not abused by people who can be treated, if the person is predicted to pass on in six months or earlier, they should be allowed this option, and the courts should decide whether or not a person is allowed to go through with assisted suicide.
I have found ,through my research, that the best solution for a compromise and agreement between the two sides of the matter would be to combine two solutions into: if a person who is predicted to pass away in six months or less wants to go through with assisted suicide then they have to go through a mental evaluation first. This is the best solution for the two sides to come to an agreement on because it favors both sides in multiple ways.