Monday, February 9, 2015

Canada to allow doctor-assisted suicide

In a unanimous decision, the Canadian Supreme Court ruled that doctor-assisted suicide, or euthanasia, is legal for those with severe and incurable medical conditions. Currently, five U.S. states (Washington, Oregon, Vermont, Montana, and New Mexico) allow for euthanasia, while it is illegal across the rest of the nation. Euthanasia is also legal in several European countries, creating a sort of "suicide tourism" in those countries. The Canadian Supreme Court made it clear that these assisted-suicides could only be performed on patients with terminal suffering as a result of an incurable disease. There is a major divide in people who believe that euthanasia is a fundamental human right and those who have issues regarding the ethics of assisted-suicide.

There have been many legislative and political movements across the United States in an attempt to legalize the practice of euthenasia, however, only five states have legalized it. For a list of court cases regarding euthanasia, click on this link:

Do you feel that euthanasia/the "right to die with dignity" is a fundamental human right, or are there some ethical problems with the idea?

Should physician-assisted-suicides be legalized in the United States? Who might support/oppose this?Article Link


Zaneta Lai said...

I don't necessarily believe that euthanasia is a right, but I believe that if someone has a chance to choose how they die, they should be able to. In my opinion, there are already so many things that we can't choose for ourselves and that there are some things that society has set up that we have to follow. Dying shouldn't be one of those things where because other people tell you you can or can't do then you won't do it.

If Congress were to pass a bill legalizing physician-assisted suicide then I would support this bill. Some with illnesses like cancer would prefer to die in a "nicer" way than if they were to let their sickness slowly take over them. We should allow those with illnesses of this degree to at least have a choice regarding how they die.

CleoWienbar7 said...

I feel that right now, the medical industry is so focused on extending life, that they fail to focus on the quality of that life. This is especially true when the patient has multiple conditions and the various physicians fail to communicate. The cardiologist thinks that the patient can withstand surgery, while the oncologist wants the patient to undergo chemo, the nephrologist wants the patient to have dialysis, and the physical therapist wants a hip replacement for the patient. While individually the patient might be able to withstand these procedures, if he or she goes through all of them, most of the rest of his/her life would probably be spent recovering from surgery.
In addition to the problems caused by a lack of communication between doctors during end of life care, the realistic results are never communicated to the patient or the patient's family. They tend to think that if they do that surgery or whatever, everything will be back like it was before they/their loved one got sick. At the end of life, this is rarely, if ever, true.
I think allowing euthanasia in extreme circumstances is just one step we need to take towards making the end of life more comfortable and dignified. Doctors need to make it clear to families the long term suffering that having dialysis or a joint replacement will impose on a very elderly patient. They may be healthier, but no one seems to be asking if they will be happier.

Miranda Brinkley said...

The issues surrounding physician assisted suicide are complex and intensive, and a definitive decision cannot be made in general, as I think an option like this has to be dealt with on a case by case basis. While I do think the option should be available in the right circumstances, I think that there's a large opportunity for it to be abused, and not necessarily from any human factor either, rather considering the patients a victim of circumstance. A patient that is exhausted financially and has dependents may be unable to ignore the medical bills that would compile should they choose to continue their fight: they want their kids to go to college, to not grow up under crippling debt. On the flip side, in the optimal decision, a patient that lacks the financial concerns the previous one does certainly ought to have the right to decide when they cannot fight anymore, and end their suffering on their terms.
Additionally, there's the issue of the physician themselves. Obviously people have different stances on the issues, and shouldn't it be up to the doctors to decide whether this is something they feel comfortable offering or not? Is it not their burden too, to know they are ending a life, for better for worse?
I doubt there is a clear cut answer to these questions, but I believe the one thing that can be agreed upon is that every case in this circumstance varies greatly and requires a different solution, which makes it hard to make a concrete decision on.

Alex Medwid said...

I definitely believe that terminally ill patients should have the right to end their lives. Physicians ultimately have the best understanding of terminal illness, and it is better to leave the judgment calls up to physicians than to have blanket laws condemning terminally ill patients to long, painful deaths. There are, of course, some issues such as medical expenses motivating suicide that need to be addressed. However, these issues can be addressed in different ways from denying people this basic right.

The odds of such a bill passing within the next twenty years are extremely slim, but I think that it will probably pass in the next forty.

Angelia Fontanos said...

Yes, there are moral questions on whether physician assisted suicide is right or wrong. How does the physician themselves feel about helping someone end their life? How does the patient's family feel about this person ending their life? The reasoning on whether or not physician assisted suicide is right or wrong is complex and not a black-and-white issue. However, I think the person who should ultimately be left with the decision to go through such a procedure is the patient themselves. It is their life, after all. I don't think it would be right to let a terminally ill person to continue suffering for such a long time. Forcibly prolonging their life when they're only suffering is a drain on their dignity as a human being. Keeping a terminally ill person alive is also very expensive, so a person's financial situation should be considered, especially if they have a family or have children. In cases where there is a child involved with the patient, you need to think about the future of the child, as well as the patient.
I support physician assisted suicide, but the patient needs to be confirmed to be mentally sound first.