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Thursday, January 20, 2022

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Assisted suicide can be a humane practice


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Physician-assisted suicide is the act in which a patient suffering from an incurable disease is given lethal drugs by a physician. Evidently, there has been a slow progression over the years in allowing assisted suicide to be legalized nationwide.

It has only been legalized in California, Vermont, Washington, Colorado and Oregon, with the latter being the first in 1997.  This is because assisted suicide is one of the most controversial topics in the field of medicine as it interferes with ethical medicinal practice. But assisted suicide should be supported with the states where it is legal and should be legalized throughout the United States.  

Physician-assisted suicide can help an individual regain some control. Terminal and chronic illnesses can make people feel like they have lost control of their lives because their condition takes up so much of it. With assisted suicide, an individual might not be able to control their health, but they can control when and how they want to die.

One opposition is in regards to the Hippocratic Oath, Greek medical text that has physicians hold ethical standards, which states “do no harm.”  It is believed that physicians will not complete their duties or comply with their oath by engaging in assisted suicide. 

According to the ProCon website, Dr. Marcia Angell from Harvard Medical School said, “When healing is no longer possible, when death is imminent and patients find their suffering unbearable, then the physician’s role should shift from healing to relieving suffering in accord with the patient’s wishes.”

Not allowing individuals to choose their own fates is more harmful when their options are limited to intense pain or death.

One argument is that once physician-assisted suicide is legal, it will lead to a downward spiral of allowing deaths to occur even when it is not needed. However, regulations can be placed to prohibit this from occurring.

Oregon has stringent protections, including the requirement of a life expectancy less than six months, a discussion of other options like hospice care, mental competency and a second opinion from another physician. If the guidelines are placed, it will protect unnecessary assisted suicides from occurring.

Physician-assisted suicide can be a humane act. If mentally competent patients exhibit excruciating pain and suffer from a terminal illnesses, then they should be given the option to end their suffering.

It is not compassionate to require terminally ill patients to suffer until their bodies go out against their will. If patients are not given the option to end their suffering, the patient and the patient’s loved ones are subjected to more pain than necessary.

By allowing assisted suicide, the patient can be free of pain, and the loved ones can be given a glimmer of peace by knowing that their loved one was freed from any excessive pain.

As Stephen Hawking said, “Those who have a terminal illness and are in great pain should have the right to choose to end their own life.”

Staff writer Ruth Frausto is a biology junior. She can be reached at [email protected]

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