There is no question, the dying process is one of consummate emotional and physical loss for the individual dying and the individual(s) who is left to repair the life they have put on hold to lovingly usher their loved one out of this world. The situation is often so extreme that care providers see and do things that in life would have seemed improbable if not impossible and the dying patient can be left feeling debased and completely helpless to do anything about it. For the dying patient not having the ability to spare the care provider from having recurring remembrances of this gory and debasing existence, rather than the remembrances that are reflective of the individuals life can and often is emotionally devastating.
Opponents of the right to die demonstrate an unwavering expression of the need for individuals to have as much time as they can with loved ones to express dying wishes, say goodbye, and follow every coarse of treatment offered by the medical community, so family will be left knowing that everyone did everything they could, an attempt to remove the normal stage of guilt from death and grief.
Woodman 110) This attempt to lesson the blow, no matter how idealistic can end in a painful affirmation of loss that can be carried with the living to their own deaths, rather than avoiding anything they are adding to the burden of loss and in the heroic medical system of today they are usually adding countless wasted dollars to their burden. Opponents would also like to remove responsibility from the physician, as if it is not the work of a physician to make life and death decisions and to help patients do so with dignity.
Woodman 110) They call upon the Hippocratic oath, even though it has so contorted the physicians ability to deal comfortably with the concept of giving up and embracing the inevitable that it has placed an extreme undue burden on the system and the individual.
Palmer 124) Palliative care, is sometimes not even discussed as an option and looked at by the medical community as something to avoid, even though such care, the care supporting comfort after the terminal state is accepted, has been found to be exceedingly helpful to all involved.
Having experienced end of life decision making, within my own family, and as a medical professional the variation is extreme and yet most people will acknowledge that the challenge is formidable. Most, including myself contend that the thing they wish for the most is the ability to actually ask, and get a response, from the individual dying. Euthanasia offers this opportunity as it can be an intervention that occurs prior to the individual being to ill to react or respond to questions. Some would argue that the right to take one's own life is subject to legal and ethical barriers that should never be bridged, and yet every individual will eventually die and in an individualistic society the right to do so as one chooses does not seem that far fetched.
The value of assisted suicide, should be recognized by those who have the power to do so. Reasons for this are many, but the greatest common denominator is that individuals should be allowed to make conscious decisions about the most personal of experiences, death. Death is the end of ones life, and everyone will eventually experience it and yet in the nature of heroic allopathic medicine there is a modern sense of being able to cheat death, to prolong life through technology and knowledge to such a degree that its abilities are highly overvalued and rated. The individual dying patient is simply seeking to manage the closing of their life in a manner that reflects the living of their life, through self-determination and dignity.
Kamisar, Yale. "Physician-Assisted Suicide: The Problems Presented by the Compelling, Heartwrenching Case." Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology 88.3 (1998): 1121-1146.
Palmer, Larry I. Endings and Beginnings: Law, Medicine, and Society in Assisted Life and Death. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers, 2000.
Salem, Tania. "Physician-Assisted Suicide." The Hastings Center Report 29.3 (1999): 30.