The Right For The Terminally Ill To Choose Physician Assisted Suicide

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The right for the terminally ill to choose physician assisted suicide has long been a topic of controversy for many years. The right for the terminally ill to choose physician assisted suicide should be the individual’s right, and the individual’s choice to do so.

The arguments on this topic very from the right to choose physician assisted suicide, to whether physician assisted suicide should even be allowed. A large portion of people believe physician assisted suicide shouldn’t be permissible because of their spiritual predisposition and the way that they believe ethically.

Others believe that physician assisted suicide should at the bare minimum, be an option for those who have been diagnosed with a life ending diagnosis where there is no cure. After researching both sides of the topic, I believe in the end, it should be up to the patient. They should have the right to decide if they want to end their life with the assistance of a physician. The right to choose life or death should be in the hands of the individual facing the terminal diagnosis.

In the early 90’s, Dr. Jack Kevorkian from Pontiac Michigan, first became famous when he made headlines after being charged with the murder of Janet Adkins. He assisted her, in carrying out her request to end her own life. Janet Adkins, was a 54 year old female who had contacted Dr. Kevorkian and requested his help in dying.

At the young age of 54, she had already been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. According to the National Institute on Aging, Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disorder that slowly destroys memory, thinking skills, and eventually the ability to carry out the simplest of tasks.(National Institute on Aging, par.1)

Janet Adkins did not wish to live out her life in that manner. She had heard of Dr. Kevorkian, and she had done prior research on him before she first made contact with him or before their first initial meeting. She met with him on several occasions, before arranging to finally meet Dr. Kevorkian one last time, at a public park.

That afternoon, the two they sat in his Volkswagen van as she administered her own pain medications through an IV that Dr. Kevorkian had prepared for her, but of her request. After the pain medications were taken she then would receive an agreed to combination of poisonous medications that would eventually stop her heart in the next five minutes, where she would die of heart failure.

The medications that were administered by Dr. Kevorkian were an agreed to amount and specific dosage and specific kind prior to the meeting. Making Janet Adkins the first patient that would be known for physician assisted suicide to the public. She choose to end her life on her terms, with the assistance of a physician.

To prevent her and her family from having to endure years of suffering and pain because of the Alzheimer’s diagnosis. She choose physician assisted suicide because she felt it was the only way to end her life without the suffering. (updated July26,2019, Biography Jack Kevorkian).

The right to choose death debate has been around long before Dr. Kevorkian, but it was just not as well-known. The right to die movement actually began in the United States when Derek Humprey Founded the Hemlock Society in 1980. Derek Humphry created the oldest right to die organization right out of his garage in Santa Monica, California. He fought for voluntary euthanasia and physician assisted suicide to be made legal for terminally and hopelessly ill adults.

Also, in 1980, Christiann Barnard published the book Good Life Good Death, a Doctors case For Euthanasia and Suicide. In this book he discusses active euthanasia, the ending of life by direct means. Barnard believed that the primary goal of medication was to alleviate suffering not to merely prolong life. He argued that the advances in modern medical technology demanded that we evaluate our view of death and handling of terminal illness. He thought that by having the medical technology available to save lives and prolong lives that we should also be able to end the suffering individuals who met certain guidelines. (Barnard)

In todays society, there are many options for caring for a loved one in a facility or at home. We have assisted living communities, nursing homes, hospice, or palliative care which can offer several different levels of care for all different types of individuals, with different needs. Most assisted living communities offer a family like environment with certain levels of help that they assist you with on a daily basis. These are called ADL’S. (Activates of Daily Living).

Then as you get older, or sicker the amount of care you need rises, so the amount of money you pay every month to the facility also rises. They have the bare minimum that state requires on employees because they are not actually set up to deal with the terminally ill. When a patient is actively dying they bring in hospice to assist with the extra care needed for the resident.

So, instead of being cared for by someone you know and trust while you are dying, you are then turned over to a complete stranger to help you at your end of life stage. Nursing homes have so many patients, and they have very little staff there to assist with the needs of the patients.

When you walk into most nursing home facilities you smell the light scent of urine, and you see patients lined up against the walls in common areas. They sit there in chairs, on fold up walkers, or in wheel chairs for hours until there next meal or bedtime. Other residents are left lying in a bed all day for hours on end, because of lack of staff available to help with their needs. Hours of sitting in a hallway day after day, or left laying in a bed all day doesn’t appeal to me.

Let’s face it, palliative care and hospice care are strangers who come into your living environment to see to the needs of the patient. They are only there for a short period of time usually to help assisting with bathing and clothing the resident a few times a week. If you decide to stay home in your environment to die, then you still have to be able to provide full time caregivers on top of the programs that are designed to help with life ending progression. To hire caregivers can be very costly, but the cost of full time care can be very expensive in the end of life stage.

The affect that long term suffering has on your loved ones has to be probably the hardest part in dying. You know from the day you get that diagnosis who is going to be by your side during this journey and who will not. Your spouse, and your children turn into being the caretakers while you become the one being cared for. They end up having to watch the person that they love go from someone full of life, to someone who is a mere part of who they used to be.

The longer the disease progresses the harder the caregiving gets for them. Not just physically but emotionally. They see the person that they love lay in bed day after day. They start not eating and they end up losing weight and have no real life except laying in bed having a routine in place to come and change the individual, shower them and try to feed. At the end of life the medications increase to prevent them from speaking and then the individual stops talking. Eventually they just lay in bed, suffering. This would not be the ending that I would hope for if given a choice.

It took many year’s but now there are several states that allow Physician assisted suicide. As of September of 2019, The Death with Dignity Act allows qualified terminally ill adults to voluntarily request and receive a prescription to hasten the end of their life.

The patient must be 18 years or older, mentally competent, able of making and communicating their own health care decisions; have been diagnosed with a terminal illness that will, and within reasonable judgment lead to death in the next six months.

According to Deathwithdignity.org as of 2019, California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Maine, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington all now have laws in place to assist in the aide of Physician assisted suicide.(How death with dignity laws work, par.1) All of these states now have laws in place to assist the terminally ill to choose physician assisted suicide if faced with a incurable, life threatening terminal illness.

The right to choose physician assisted suicide must be an option for the terminally. This right allows them to make the choice to leave this earth on their own terms and timing. This allows them to end the suffering and pain, to alleviate the family from having to go through the agony of watching the suffering and to keep the families from having to pay such high rates for long term care. To let be allowed to choose death by physician assisted suicide should be left up to the individual who has the terminal illness. This should be their choice and their choice alone.

Cite this paper

The Right For The Terminally Ill To Choose Physician Assisted Suicide. (2020, Sep 24). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/the-right-for-the-terminally-ill-to-choose-physician-assisted-suicide/

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