In thousands of homes across the nation victims of terminal illnessessit in pain due to their sicknesses. Should these people have to go through allof that pain and suffering just for the end result of death’should thesepeople have the right to assisted death, to rid themselves of unbearable pain?This topic has been one of the great controversies over the last several years. Not too long ago if someone was found assisting in suicide, it was seenas a felony crime. But recently there have been court cases taken up in twofederal appellate courts that ruled terminally ill patients have the right toseek doctor assisted suicide (Carter 1).
These cases took place in New York andWashington. This added two more to the list of states that legalized this meansof ending life. However, doctor assisted is still seen as a criminal act inthirty four states(Rosen 1). In my opinion, doctor assisted suicide should bemade legal throughout the nation. If a terminally ill patient wants to take hisor her life due to excruciating pain, he or she should have the ability toutilize euthanasia. Ultimately, the decision should be that of the terminallyill individual.
The main controversy over this issue, is the question of morality. Isit morally right for a doctor to assist in suicide? Many individuals feel thatit is not. It is thought if assisted suicide is legalized throughout the states,it will encourage families with terminally ill relatives to push themprematurely to their demise(Carter 2). This is an outlandish assumption.
Afamily that truly loves one another would not urge a family member to rush anydecision as momentous as ending one’s life. If there is caring among the family,the suicide would not take place until is was utterly necessary. Two other important moral questions also arise from this issue. First,do our mortal lives belong to us alone, are we sovereign over our bodies, or dothey belong to the communities of families in which we are embedded’second,will this right give the terminally ill a greater sense of control over theircircumstances, or will it weaken respect for life?(Carter 2)The first question is ridiculous. It seems as though Carter is tryingto say we will no longer be in charge of ourselves, and we will be living in asocialistic society.
There is no reason why we should not be able to controlthe destiny of our lives. We, as human beings, are solely sovereign over ourown bodies. Therefore, it is the terminally ill patient who should have theability to choose death over life. It is this person who is experiencing thepain and suffering of their disease, not a relative or close friend, much lessthe government. The legalization of doctor assisted suicide is no reason tochange anything with people who are not terminally ill. The second question, on the other hand, has some validity and logic toit.
Doctor assisted suicide would give the dying a certain sense of control. It would enable the patient to have a certain feeling of power, knowing that heor she has the ability to complete his or her life upon request. This may soundsomewhat awkward; however, it is quite possible that it would give the patientsa sense of well being. Furthermore, it gives them a chance to end their lives ontheir terms, instead of letting a disease determine their course in life.
Asfor the second half of this question, it should in no way weaken the respect forlife. Losing respect for life is for the weak minded. If anything itstrengthens the patient’s respect; a person in the last stages of a terminalillness has endured some of the worst life has to offer. It takes away many ofhis capabilities to perform what would normally be commonplace activities; inshort it has overtaken his life and dignity. The ability to perform legalassisted suicide would help to replace some of the dignity which the illness hasextracted from a person’s life.
It would give the person the capability to endmatters on his own terms. John Stuart Mill, one of the great philosophers of the nineteenthcentury, derived a theory which is an excellent example as an argument for thelegalization of doctor assisted suicide, or all moral crimes for that matter. This theory was deemed the “Harm Principle”: a person is wholly sovereign overhis body. It is