Physician-assisted suicide is the intentional act of giving a person a deadly amount of drugs to aid in the person's death. It is only legal in five states in the United States: Oregon, Vermont, Washington, California, and Montana. In the state of Montana, a court must agree upon the decision requiring that the person has a terminal illness and given six or fewer months to live. This is to ensure physicians will not be prosecuted for the act. Physicians themselves “must be willing to participate in the act” (CNN). It should be legal in all states as an opinion for terminally ill patients. By this I mean, a person knowing death is slowly approaching and does not want to proceed with treatment, it is their choice to end their life.
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People believe it is right to put an animal down if they suffer from a severe illness that there is no medical treatment that would save their life but prolong their suffering. Therefore, why is it illegal for a human, to not want to suffer and willingly want to end their own life? Why allow a person to suffer but not allow an animal to? No one can really answer these two questions because there is no true reason a person should have to live the remainder of their life more sick from treatment and financially struggling.
Others believe it is wrong to assist someone in killing themselves because it devalues human life and that people that are terminally ill might suffer from depression or another mental illness and are unfit to make decisions. Also, it is believed that physician’s prognoses are inaccurate, sometimes saying a person only has months to live but the person outlives those months and live for many more months or even years (NPR). These reasons are understandable but it does not make it right for someone to prolong another person’s life when they do not want to, knowing it is going to not only be painful treatment but is also going to be a financial burden after their death.
It should be legal in all states as an option for terminally ill patients who do not want to prolong their suffering. Growing up I did not have my parents around to take care of me. I was raised by my grandmother, Petra, who was a loving and caring woman. She did everything in her power to support her grandchildren. In 2011 she was rushed to the hospital where they found out that she had stage four liver cancer. This stage of cancer was incurable but she was given treatment such as chemo to slow down cancer. I loved my grandmother to death and did not want her to go (pass away). I wanted her alive more than anything in the world, but seeing her deteriorate every day for three months was horrible. She was no longer the woman I once knew. She couldn’t walk, feed herself, use the restroom, bathe herself, and could barely talk. She relied on my aunt and other nurses completely. My family refused to put her in a nursing home or keep her in the hospital, which I agreed with them, I felt that if my grandmother is going to die, she should do so in her own home.
For months, I watched her lay in her bed dying, in pain. She was so sick. She no longer had an ounce of fat on her body, she was literally all skin and bone. You could see the outline of every bone in her body. She barely opened her eyes and when she did she had no idea where she was or who those were around her. I loved her but I did not want to see her suffering anymore. I wanted her to die. I wanted her to finally be at peace. It took three months for her to finally pass and though losing her was hard on all my family members, most of us knew she was no longer suffering.
Like my grandmother, there are hundreds of thousands of people suffering from some kind of illness that is incurable. They should not have to suffer. If physician- assisted suicide was legal in this state of Pennsylvania my grandmother would have agreed to this act to prevent herself and her family from suffering emotionally and financially.
Imagine being in someone’s shoes and seeing the pain friends and family members go through when they see their loved one in so much pain that they cannot even move, feed themselves, and laying in a hospital bed for days, weeks, or even months at a time. To know that they are going to die and have to go through months of treatments that are going to make them feel worse, lose their hair, and destroy their body. They are going to die, maybe not today, but they will die and there is no changing that fact. When they are gone it is the family that has to deal with the expenses of treatment and a funeral. They are in pain and cannot take care of themselves or their needs. That is being alive, but not living. No human being should suffer that kind of fate.
Physician-assisted suicide allows family members and friends to expect the death of their loved one. It is planned ahead of time so burial arrangements can be made and family that may be out of state or country have time to visit before the person dies. The ill person can then live every day as it is their last without worry of having to be sick or motionless and having to rely on others for their needs to be taken care of. These last moment memories could be well worth it and give the ill person something good to remember. The ill person does not feel as a burden before their death and not causing horrible memories for their family.
If a person wants to end their life because they have an incurable disease they have every right to do so. My other grandmother, once said that if she was to get terminally ill she would not want to suffer, to just end her misery (Boyer). They know that prolonging their life is really only prolonging their suffering, for themselves and their family. They are going to pass regardless, why not go out on their own terms with family by their side and pain-free. They have a right to live, they also have a right to their own death.
The death penalty, for example, is used to execute people that have committed a great crime. Those people that are being executed do not want to die but by order of the government, their life must end. The death penalty is legal in most states, therefore what is the difference? If a person can be executed against their will, why can’t a person choose to be executed at their will?
We are all human and being human we make mistakes. This is one choice that will not be a mistake. Human life is very valuable and no one wants to devalue it but people that have suffered a great loss know how it feels to be in that kind of position, where they have to witness a loved one suffer from months maybe years of a disease that cannot be cured. Along the way, they see that loved one do multiple treatments but only seem to get worse. No one should have to witness someone slowly deteriorate and then die. It is traumatizing. It is immoral.