Pros and Cons of Assisted Suicide


Last October, California Governor, Jerry Brown, signed a bill on assisted suicide and on June 9m this year, the bill take effect. This law permits a dying person to request a physician for a legal dose of suicide medication to end his or her life.

This law, though, requires that the person only has six months or less to live, two doctors agree before the drug is prescribed, patient must be able to swallow the drugs on their own and should have a written affirmation a t least 48 hours before medication is taken.

It can be remembered that in 2014, Brittany Maynard, who had brain cancer, became one of the patients who opted for assisted suicide. She was from Orange, California but moved to Oregon, being one of the four states that have legalized Physician Assisted Suicide. The other states are Vermont, Washington, Montana and New Mexico. This year, there will already be six states with this Death with Dignity Act.

This Act legally gives the right to a competent person who is dying in six months or less to commit suicide with the aid of a medical practitioner who is willing to write a prescription of lethal drug doses. Although the doctor will not be the one to administer the drugs such as in the practice of euthanasia or mercy-killing, he or she can advise the patient and give instructions on what needs to be done to carry out the suicide. Moreover, in Assisted Suicide, the patient has the sole discretion when it comes to the time and date he or she wants to commit the act. There are also other requirements to be met for it to be permitted. Here are some opposing viewpoints about Assisted Suicide.

List of Pros of Assisted Suicide

1. Right to Die with Dignity.
Advocates for assisted suicide posit that people who are terminally ill have the right not to be subjected to any prolonged pain brought about by their medical conditions. This can be done in a humane way with assisted suicide. As for the case of Brittany Maynard who wanted to end her suffering and that she only had six months to live and had to relocate to another state because during that time, assisted suicide was not legal in California.

2. Ends Guilt.
Supporters of Assisted Suicide claim that there are some patients who feel they are being a burden to their families for being ill. For them, they financially, physically and emotionally drain their loved ones for having to take care of them. Letting this people end their sufferings at a time they choose is not only ethical but also removes the guilt these patients have.

3. Part of Patients’ Rights.
Proponents of Assisted Suicide say that it is one of the items in the Bill of Rights of Patients because it states that a person has a right to refuse treatment and be treated for illness if this is what the prefer. For supporters, terminally ill patients should be permitted and be given the autonomy to end their sufferings from their medical conditions. And since these people who want to end their lives have to follow certain provisions in the law to carry out Assisted Suicide.

4. Supports Dying People.
People in favor of Assisted Dying say that there are patients who have been sick for years and have lost confidence and consider themselves useless and failures. Some of these patients just simply lost their will to live. Terminally ill people should be supported and given the autonomy to decide for themselves. As for issue on the theory of slippery slope, there really have no statistics on the increase in number of assisted suicides connected to this theory.

List of Cons of Assisted Suicide

1. Unethical and Immoral.
There are medical professionals who express their views on Assisted Suicide being an act violating morality and ethics but whose hands are tied since they are legally required to assist patients on dying despite their personal take on the issue. Even if they support and acknowledge people who have the desire to end their sufferings and refuse to be given palliative treatment, yet they are not happy with having to assist in doing so. For these doctors, ethics is not only having to concede to a person’s wish to end life but it is recognizing that despite the person’s desire to end the suffering, he or she is still human being who is valuable.

2. Limits the Options.
Critics of Assisted Suicide posit that this law being legal makes it appear that it is the only choice dying people have when it comes to feeling better and accepting their medical conditions. According to opponents of this bill, terminally ill patients still have the choice to get palliative care and reduce the pain they are suffering from. There had been a case in which a patient was persuaded not to go through with it and eventually was cured from cancer.

3. Wrong Prognoses.
Anti-Assisted Suicide groups claim that there have been instances where medical doctors make mistakes and give wrong prognoses or inaccurate findings in terms of a sick person surviving beyond six months. They argue that there have been instances in which terminally ill patients have survived from their illnesses thus, legalizing Assisted Suicide is not really the answer.

4. Hippocratic Oath Violation.
Another strong contention on Assisted Suicide is that the Act goes against what physicians have promised when they took the Hippocratic Oath that includes not giving any medication to will harm or injure another human being nor take part of giving lethal medication even if the individual requests for it. This also includes not making any insinuations for a person to opt to take deadly medications, despite certain changes in the Hippocratic Oath.

Despite another state legalizing Assisted Suicide and with a number of people who believe this should be accepted and practiced, this will remain to be a contentious issue and will always have ethical and moral concerns. Weighing the pros and cons of this Act is important because this entails deciding on the fate of human beings.