Physician her life with the help of a


Physician assisted suicide presents one of the greatest dilemmas to the medical profession.

Should someone who is mentally competent, but deemed terminally ill, be allowed to engage in physician-assisted suicide? According to the First Amendment of The Constitution of The United States, one has the freedom to petition the government for a redress of grievances. The Fourteenth Amendment states, The State cannot deprive any person of life, liberty or property, without due process of law; nor deny any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. The group believes that a terminally ill patient has the Constitutional right to decide whether or not to end his or her life with the help of a licensed medical doctor. There have been many cases over the years where a terminally ill patient who is mentally competent has made the choice to either partake in physician-assisted suicide or euthanasia. Physician-assisted suicide occurs when the physician provides the patient with the means and/or knowledge to commit suicide(Death and Dying,91). Euthanasia is when the physician administers the death causing drug or agent(Death and Dying,92). The most recent case is that of The State of Florida v. Charles Hall.

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Charles Hall is dying of AIDS and challenged the State of Florida to let him die by a self-administered lethal injection without fear of prosecution(http://www.rights.org/ deathnet/open.html). On January 31, 1997, a Judge ruled that Charles Hall could take his own life with the aid of a doctor.

Senior Judge S. Joseph Davis, brought in from Seminole County, found that Floridas strict privacy law and the equal protection clause in the U.S. Constitution entitled Hall, 35, and Dr. McIver to carry out an assisted death without fear of prosecution (Sun-Sentinel, 1A).

On February 11, 1997, Charles Halls ruling was overturned by the Florida Supreme Court: he no longer has the right to end his own life. He will have to wait until May 9, 1997 until new arguments will be heard. Hall, who has been deemed mentally competent, contracted the virus in 1981 through a blood transfusion.

Some of the complications he is encountering from the AIDS virus are arthritis, hepatitis, pneumonia and a brain cyst (http://www.rights.org/deathnet/ open.html).

The Oregon Death with Dignity Act allows terminally ill adults who are mentally competent to ask for a prescription for medication for the purpose of ending his or her life in a humane and dignified manner(http://www.rights.org/deathnet/ open.html). This act, Measure 16, was approved by the voters in 1994.

Renewed efforts at the Legislative level to overturn Measure 16 may now be anticipated to prevent the law from being used(http://www.rights.org/deathnet/open. html). In June, 1990, the Supreme Court decided that the parents of 32 year old Nancy Beth Cruzan, who had been in a car accident and in what Doctors called a vegetative state for seven years, could not end her treatment. Later that same year, a Missouri Court ruled that the feeding tube could be removed after evidence that Cruzan would wish to terminate the treatment was proven.

Nancy Beth Cruzan died twelve days later(Death and Dying,26). The First Amendment gives one the right to demand the correction of an injustice. Would one not consider a terminal illness an injustice? Charles Hall contracted this deadly disease from a blood transfusion not from shooting drugs or having unprotected sex. So wouldnt Hall be entitled to have this injustice corrected? The Fourteenth Amendment gives one the right to life, liberty, or property, without due process of law. However, is living with complications from a terminal illness, so severe that one is unable to function dependently, life? The government says that it is. Liberty is freedom, but is having complications which do not allow one to be free and independent, freedom? The government says once again that it is.

Freedom is also having the ability to make choices. These choices should include the ability to decide to end ones own life when such complications exist. In conclusion, evidence has shown that the First and Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution entitles citizens of the United States of America the right to die. The government was setup to govern, not to rule with absolute power. If the people were to keep silent about what they believe in, our government would not exist as the system that it is today. Our democracy was created because of those brave souls who fought for their rights, and we should follow in their footsteps.

If everyone would voice their opinion in favor for the right to die, the government would have to attend to the peoples wishes.

In in suicide? Many individuals feel that


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).

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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.

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