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The Debate over Physician Assisted Suicide - Essay Example

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The debate over physician assisted suicide The question of legalizing physician-assisted suicide has become a highly debated social, political and legal issue in the United States. While Oregon legalized PAS in 1994, hot debates are going on in states such as Indiana regarding its legalization…
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The Debate over Physician Assisted Suicide
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Download file to see previous pages Thus, the campaign in Indiana to get PAS legislation on the ballot should focus on these aspects. One should take into account the possible counter-arguments that could be raised by the opponents of PAS. It should be kept in mind that there are strong oppositions from the part of physicians, legal commentators and sociologists as many hold that physician-assisted suicide is nothing but willful killing. The opponents also may argue that it is more significant to protect and preserve human life. Therefore, it is imperative that the campaign for PAS should postulate that such patients who cannot fulfill social responsibilities and societal expectations would cause social instability and as such, Physical Assisted Suicide can be permitted in exceptional cases where the patient leads a miserable life and has no hope for recovery from the deadly disease or illness. This paper seeks to convince the audience/readers that PAS is worthy of being legalized in Indiana and in doing so the paper throws light on the specific characterizations of Indiana voters as well. It can be identified that the Indiana voters have remained reluctant towards legalizing PAS in the past. The Indiana Code §35-42-1-2.5 ‘prohibits assisted suicide’ by law and it has been brought under the general homicide laws (Legal Status of Assisted Suicide/Euthanasia in the United States). However, the emergence of such controversial cases as Terri Schiavo, Barbara Howee, and Nancy Cruzan has prompted many to rethink of legalizing PAS. Terri Schiavo had to remain in ‘persistent vegetative state’ for 15 years until she was permitted for PAS on March 31, 2005; Barbara Howe was totally paralyzed and breathing with a ventilator for many years; and Nancy Cruzan, an auto accident victim, had also to remain in persistent vegetative state for a number of years (Jost 423). Undoubtedly, anyone who has witnessed the sufferings, misfortune, agony and frustration experienced by these patients as well as their intimate relatives will think in favor of PAS. In this respect, the Oregon's Death with Dignity Act has rightly recognized the personal rights of patients; however, it is quite unfortunate that the Supreme Court ruled that there are no fundamental or constitutional rights that support any arguments in favor of physician-assisted suicide (Park 283). Indiana, too, can follow the example of Oregon if the Indiana voters show empathetic feelings towards the suffering and pathetic persistent vegetative state of many of its brothers and sisters. While PAS is opposed for moral and ethical reasons, it is high time that the Indiana voters realized the factors that favor PAS. One needs to understand that the demand for PAS is strongly rooted in human rights theories and the concept of patient autonomy. PAS can also be regarded as quite ethical and moral as the termination of life occurs at the request of the individual himself when the physician realizes that ‘to continue letting this individual live, would be more harmful than dying’ (Center for Bioethics: University of Minnesota 41). Similarly, there are sound arguments that the patients have the right to die with dignity rather than leading a death-like miserable life. In physician-assisted suicide, the choice to end one’s life rests completely on the patient himself or his/her family. The Indiana voters need to have a thorough understanding of the arguments ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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