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Dr. Jack Kevorkian’s act of 1990 has brought many debates regarding whether or not to legalize assisted suicide. Those who stand for the legalization of assisted suicide argue that it is the right for patients to be relieved from pain and suffering and to decide to end their lives, while legalization oppositionist view assisted suicide through the prism of religious teachings against suicide and loss of integrity on the side of physicians.
Assisted Suicide Should Be Legalized
All human beings have a right to control their lives and can do anything with themselves as long as they do not cross the rights of or cause harm to others (Andre & Velasquez, 2010). In this regard, they can choose either to continue living or end their lives.
Furthermore, pain causes discomfort to people and families. We are obliged to relieve fellow human beings from immense pain. Whereas people do this by seeking medication, in case a doctor finds the patient is in serious pain and has very few days to live, it is reasonable to relieve him from pain through assisted suicide. What about the time when patient requests to be assisted to die? It is good to show compassion by accepting his/her plea. The patient will eventually die within the stipulated time and he should not be denied in his right to die. Moreover, assisted suicide in this case relieves family members from stress and financial expenses associated with pain.
It is a fact that assisted suicide does occur; whether legally or illegally. The manner in which it occurs does not follow the formal rules, and, in some cases, relatives are not involved in the process. This lives them psychologically disturbed, and it would be beneficial if it is publicized and legalized in order to be done in a defined manner.
Assisted Suicide Should Be Illegalized
It is religiously wrong for one to take someone’s life or assist someone in take his life away. Only God gives and takes life. It is, therefore, against God’s commands to assist a person in suicide. In his sixth commandment, God prohibits killing and those doing so commits sin (Exodus 20:13, Revised Standard Version).
It is morally right to take care of the sick, disabled, and the elderly. While assisted suicide may be a free choice and help people come from their pain and suffering, many people may use it to escape from pressures and responsibilities. Sick people for example, may choose assisted suicide to relieve their families from “financial and caretaking burden” (Golden, n.d.). Furthermore, families may encourage their members to undergo assisted suicide to avoid responsibilities.
Assisted suicide may bring substantial psychological and physical impact to a family. The hunger and grief experienced by family members whose member has undergone assisted suicide is prolonged compared with families whose member undergoes normal natural death.
Many technologies made by man are subject to human error. Equipment that physicians use to estimate the time left for a patient to live are also subject to errors. They may, therefore, provide wrong estimate, which may cause unnecessary deaths. In addition, physicians are trained and obliged to help patients come out of their sicknesses and pain. It would be ironical for those who are to assist in prolonging life to help shorten it. This would make the public lose trust in the medical profession.
The medical profession is determined to finding cures for many diseases. In addition, it is dedicated to search for the ways to prolong lives of patients. It would be terribly bad if the same people fighting to find solutions to patient’s problems are authorized to terminate lives. This would cause laxity in their research. Taking life under any circumstances is, therefore, immoral and should not be legalized.
There are many moral and ethical considerations to be looked before concluding on whether to legalize or illegalize assisted suicide. If it is legalized, it should be done in a way that it does not compromise families and the medical profession. If illegalized, then better ways of relieving patients from pain and suffering should be found.
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