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Physician-assisted suicide - Essay Example

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Assisted suicide,also known physician-assisted suicide is the act of assisting suffering and terminally ill patients end their misery, and thus their lives.The procedure is normally carried out on patients suffering from chronic and terminal illnesses such as cancer which leaves them in excruciating pain and debilitating conditions…
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Physician-assisted suicide
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Running head: PHILOSOPHY Philosophy By Presented to Assisted suicide, also known physician-assisted suicide (PAS) is the act of assisting suffering and terminally ill patients end their misery, and thus their lives. The procedure is normally carried out on patients suffering from chronic and terminal illnesses such as cancer which leaves them in excruciating pain and debilitating conditions. In many cases, these patients are bed ridden and their functioning as normal human beings is limited. In countries where assisted suicide is legalized, such as the Netherlands, assisted suicide, upon the request of the patient and times the general consensus of the family, is performed by a physician. This is after the signing of legal documents. Susan Wolf’s experience was a difficult one. The pain of losing a father and a friend was unbearable. The pain of seeing her father undergo excruciating pain for the time he was in and out of the hospital was a lot to handle. He could no longer feed himself, stand or walk, was bed ridden to a point of developing bed sores, and the cancer was spreading to his lungs. Other infections such as pneumonia were also weakening his body. All these were most difficult to bear. It was not easy to balance the requests and wishes of her dying father and her previous stand that was against the legalization of physician-assisted suicide. Susan, in her mind, began to contemplate the concept of assisted suicide but managed to hold it together and opted for her father’s care and comfort. If I were in Susan’s position, I would have also opted for palliative and hospice care. I would have endeavored to keep him as comfortable as possible, constantly reassuring him that everybody was dedicated to his wellbeing. This is because the worth, dignity, and sanctity of life must be upheld. Sickness and death are part of the human life cycle and must be accepted as such. Illnesses, especially terminal ones, are difficult to handle. They consume the health and well-being of our beloved. The resources, both monetary and time, used to treat and manage these diseases are also enormous and may even deplete a family’s savings. However, everybody has a moral responsibility to ensure life, whether ours or that of others, is preserved (Dyck, 2003). It is morally right to ensure that human life is treated with compassion, respect and dignity. The other reason why I would have strongly opted against assisted suicide is the status of medicine and technology today. Technological revolution has generated rapid developments in virtually all sectors. This includes the field of medicine. The advancement of technology in medicine now means that more human lives can be saved than in past times. It also means that even the terminally ill, who are facing pain and death, can be cared for. This is through palliative care aimed at reducing the pain and suffering of the patients. There is also the option of hospice care where patients are constantly monitored and given round the clock care. Medical technology has also enabled medical care practitioners, and care givers to sustain lives or prolong the deaths of those with terminal illness (Andre & Velasquez, 2010). This is especially so when their debilitating conditions cannot be restored, and the pain they are undergoing can only be reduced, and not eliminated. Legal considerations are also reason enough to advocate for the care of those with terminal illness. The right to life is entrenched in the constitution of almost every country, and every individual is tasked with the duty of respecting human life. Those who end other people’s lives are faced with legal ramifications and so are those who attempt to end their own. Suicide in some countries is, however, not illegal. Allowing assisted suicide in our laws may eventually open a window of opportunity whereby people will engage in actively “helping” to terminate the lives of persons they feel have no worth. Devaluing one life is tantamount to devaluing all lives (Andre & Velasquez, 2010). Legally allowing physician-assisted suicide will also infringe on the rights of other people especially the care givers who may be forced to go against their beliefs so as to fulfill the wishes of those with terminal illness and dying patient. Wolf’s practical experience with her father’s condition and eventually his death made her remain steadfast in her stance against assisted suicide. This is not only morally correct but was also the best decision she made. Her efforts in urging a member of the palliative care to find time and reassure her father that his comfort would be looked after were geared towards the preservation of life. Her position against euthanasia is reflected as she remembers the death of her father and notes that the burden of thought that she allowed the accelerated death of her father by euthanasia or assisted suicide would be too heavy to bear. At the end of it all, she felt relieved and at ease. This is because she realized that human life, even at death, is sacred. She acknowledges that it was the final ripening of her love. However, Wolf’s thoughts at one time during her experience were not in line with the upholding of the dignity of human life. Her father’s worsening condition made her want to “think through”. It could be understood that she could no longer handle the pain her father was experiencing. Positive thinking in such cases should always be forefront. The defense for assisted suicide is not only strong but also welcomed by many. Human life is, however, precious, and its worth should always be respected. In cases where terminally ill patients are involved, all possible alternatives to their care, apart from assisted suicide, should be explored. References Andre, C. & Velasquez, M. (2010). Assisted Suicide: A Right or a Wrong? Retrieved on 13th October 2011 from >http://www.scu.edu/ethics/publications/iie/v1n1/suicide.html< Dyck, A. (2003). Life’s Worth: The Case against Assisted Suicide. Retrieved on 13th October 2011 from >http://www.ad2000.com.au/articles/2003/mar2003p17_1281.html Read More
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