The debate on physician assisted suicide remains a controversial issue across the various fronts of the American community. Proponents of the practice claim of its importance in eliminating involuntary pain and misery to the terminally ill members of the community (Gorsuch, 2000). It is commonly acknowledged that terminally ill patients are marked with both physical and psychological pain throughout their remaining section of their natural life.
Just to be appreciated is the fact that, given the true knowledge that one will die due to a certain infection brings with it psychological distress. Such are found to serve much in negating the individual’s perception and hope in life (Gorsuch, 2000). Therefore, performing a physician assisted suicide is termed as a reliable solution as it gives a dignified death to the victim. Another claim by the opponents of physician assisted suicide is that it helps in saving the family of its financial and emotional security (Hyde, 2001).
According to available information, victims of terminal diseases are a major financial and emotional burden to other family members. Having such health complications, such victims drain the financial reserves of the family, a factor that can greatly compromise the sustainable social and economic position of the family. Still, terminal illnesses are found to compromise the individual’s ability not only to provide for their family but also to be self-reliant (Hyde, 2001). Such dictates for other members of the family to stay around so as to address the needs of the patient.
This has the direct result of negating the productivity of the family members, as well as acting as a source of emotional pain as they witness their loved ones undergo terminal pain. However, opponents of physician assisted suicide assert the fact that life is a precious gift from God and no man has a right to take it away (Avila, 2000). According to the provisions of the American constitution on civil rights, the right to life is identified as the most fundamental right to any member of the community.
Since the civil rights law prohibits anyone from taking away the life of another person, legalizing physician assisted suicide is claimed to be a contradiction to the right to life (Gorsuch, 2000). Still, the cultural norms, beliefs, and values of the American society put life as a holy gift. Opponents therefore perceive legalizing physician assisted suicide as risking the breakdown of our social fabric. Opponents of the physician assisted suicide have claimed that it negates the purpose and trust the society has in medical technological advancements as well as the practitioners (Gorsuch, 2000).
The sole purpose of a medical practitioner is to save the lives of the ill in the community. This means that, legalizing assisted suicide will be making them angels of death rather than savers of life. On technology, it is claimed that the current technological advancement can sufficiently sustain the life of the terminally ill over a long period of time (Hyde, 2001). Such have the direct implication that legalizing physician assisted suicide will only serve to negate the importance of technology.
It has also been claimed that legalization of physician assisted suicide in the community will mitigate further developments in the medical research field (Avila, 2000). Necessity is the mother of invention. Based on this reasoning, if the terminally ill will be served with life terminating medical prescriptions, there could be no need to engage in research to develop life saving medications. Such could also give medical practitioners an escape loophole for not helping patients.
Therefore, physician assisted suicide can serve in making physicians angels of mercy or angels of death depending on an individuals perception of the practice. References Avila, D. (2000). Assisted Suicide and the Inalienable Right to Life. Issues in Law & Medicine, 16, 111-141. Gorsuch, N. (2000). The Right to Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia. Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, 23, 6-18. Hyde, M. (2001). Defining “Human Dignity” in the Debate Over the (Im) Morality of Physician-assisted Suicide. Journal of Medical Humanities, 22, 69-82.