In the contemporary world, thousands of people are dying of incurable diseases in hospices and health care centers, experiencing great pain, miserable sufferings, and depression. Terminally ill patients have no right to make up their mind whether to die in pain and grief or to enjoy their last days being with the family. Most of these patients are deprived of the chance to spend the end of the life in peace and comfort. The assisted suicide is the only way out to relieve sufferings and avoid painful death. The major reason is that the physicians’ primary concern is the well-being of the patient. Therefore, it is unethical to prohibit patients to die in the family circle if continuing to live becomes a torture for them.
Currently, the law does not permit the assisted-suicide in the majority of countries. In the USA, only five states out of fifty have implemented laws making the assisted suicide legal. California has become the fifth state to pass the assisted-suicide bill. It allows physicians to prescribe the lethal dose of drugs to the mentally healthy patients, diagnosed with a terminal illness and expected to die within the timeframe of six months (McGreevy). The Governor of California, Jerry Brown, has signed the bill after having researched both the advantages and disadvantages and considered the theological and religious perspectives on the issue (McGreevy). The mentioned legalization has caused the division of the society into the supporters and opponents of the assisted-suicide procedure. As a result, the controversial character of the bill serves as an essential impediment to solving the problem. Both sides present corroborative evidence and strong arguments to prove their point of view.
The Los Angeles Times Editorial Board supports the initiative of the Governor of California. It is the indispensable law that provides thousands of dying patients with the ability to take control over their life and death. If there is no other alternative, people should have the right to end heir life with dignity. The assisted-suicide bill is a step forward in resolving medical issues. If the patient having no chances to recover takes an aid-in-dying drug, it does not constitute suicide. The major task of the physician is to ensure that the patient received information about the consequences, considered all possible options, and made a free decision to take drugs to die. The law presupposes that only patients having incurable illnesses may request for death. Two doctors are always involved in the procedure. The first physician carries out the initial assessment and makes the recommendation while the second one reviews it. Thus, according to the assisted-suicide bill, the physician’s actions cannot become a menace to the health of the patient.
Nevertheless, the opponents of the bill claim that doctors have no legal and moral right to kill their patients to ease the sufferings. However, an interesting question has remained without the answer whether it is moral and legal to let the patient suffer from unbearable pain in the last days. Taking into consideration the above question, physicians should assist the desperate patients in ending life earlier if the death is inevitable in any case.
Moreover, the researcher O’Neill disagrees with the viewpoint of the Los Angeles Times Editorial Board. He agrees that patients have the right to deny prescribed treatment if they consider it necessary. The doctors’ major duty is “the treatment of the illness that presupposes pain reduction and preventing sufferings” (O’Neill). Nevertheless, providing physicians with the legal right to assist patients in committing suicide is another matter. This issue rejects the norms of medical ethics and basic human rights proclaimed in the Constitution.
Furthermore, the representatives of the world religious groups argue about preventing the legalization of physician-assisted suicide. They refer to it as a crime, rejecting moral ethics and human rights. The Catholic Church claims that onlly God is capable of giving life to people and taking it from them. Therefore, no other human has a moral right to murder another individual or assist in committing suicide. However, the key point is that assisted suicide is neither murder nor suicide. In addition, physicians have no other alternatives to reduce the sufferings of their terminally ill patients and let them die with dignity.
In the case of physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia, the control over the patients’ lives is “in the hands of the physicians, who evaluate the eligibility of the patients intending to make a decision to end life” (Fass and Fass 846). Still, there is no definite answer on what factors the physician should take into account while assessing whom to assist in dying. As a result, the U. S. government is reluctant to pass laws allowing euthanasia and assisted suicide. Indeed, it has implemented the laws against assisted suicide with the objectives to avoid negative effects and save people’s lives. However, the laws fail to ensure “the prevention of possible abuse cases and the protection of patients from their doctors and others” (Fass and Fass 847). On the contrary, the initiatives have resulted in humiliating the dignity of patients and promoting their sufferings in the last days.
How Can We Help?
Still, the choice of assisted dying should be properly assessed by both patients and physicians. Patients who are dying of a terminal illness are vulnerable regarding their physical, emotional, and psychological health. Thus, these people may be imposed the decision to end the life earlier either by the members of the family or their caretakers. They usually search for the solution that is the best for the affiliates but not for themselves. People are afraid of becoming a large burden to the family. Moreover, the lack of the required budget for the treatment leads to choosing the assisted-suicide option. Thus, patients diagnosed with incurable illnesses should be reasonable and evaluate the situation correctly.