Legal Implications of Assisted Suicide Book Report

Excerpt from Book Report :

This has sparked many debates in social and political arenas in regards to personhood, self-determination and human autonomy.

Any time a person wants to intentionally end his or her life, it is considered suicide. Suicide, in itself is now legal (Manning, 1998), but proponents of euthanasia argue that suicide may not be an option for the terminally ill, the hospitalized or physically disabled. These people may not have the strength or the means to end their lives alone, therefore, they cannot exercise the option of suicide and consequently are being discriminated against (Gifford, 1993).

I personally agree with those on the pro-euthanasia side of the camp, who believe that suicide is not an appropriate term for this issue because suicide is often associated with desperate emotion whereas euthanasia is based on a "cogent and deliberate form of relief from a painful and hopeless disease" (Adams, 1992). As opposed to suicide, the individual seeking euthanasia has made a decision that has taken a great deal of consideration. In fact many have already signed a "Living Will" which is a legally binding document that expresses the individuals wishes as to whether or not they want their live to be maintained by life support.

Another legal mechanism is called an advance directive. In this document a person can spell out whether or not any life sustaining treatment should be provided in the event it is not possible for a person to make that decision when the time comes. These would include but not be limited to artificial respirators, cardio-pulmonary resuscitation, kidney dialysis, surgery, antibiotics to fight off an infection or artificial nutrition and hydration (Manning, 1998).

Usually, advance directives are made at the onset of an illness or when creating a will. This document can be prepared at any time as long as a person is competent or there is a power of attorney. While this document does not address the issue of voluntary active euthanasia, it does allow for voluntary passive euthanasia, by the person exercising his/her legal right to refuse treatment (Manning, 1998).

Conclusion

Legislators should make it legal for physicians to assist terminally ill patients in the act of ending their own lives, if the patient is mentally capable of making the decision, and physically incapable of doing it themselves. Living wills and advanced directives help the physician remain free from legal prosecution, but these documents are not always available. Ultimately, it does not seem that the government should have the right to punish doctors who are only attempting to fulfill their patient's wishes to die with dignity.

WORKS CITED

Adams, Robert. "Physician-Assisted Suicide and the Right to Die With Assistance." Harvard Law Review 105:2021-2040, 1992

Gifford, Edward. "Artres Moriendi: Active Euthanasia and the Art of Dying." UCLA Law Review 40:1545-1583, 1993.

Manning, Michael, MD, Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide: Killing or Caring? Paulist Press, Mahwah, NJ, 1998

Olen, Jeffery & Barry, Vincent.…

Sources Used in Document:

WORKS CITED

Adams, Robert. "Physician-Assisted Suicide and the Right to Die With Assistance." Harvard Law Review 105:2021-2040, 1992

Gifford, Edward. "Artres Moriendi: Active Euthanasia and the Art of Dying." UCLA Law Review 40:1545-1583, 1993.

Manning, Michael, MD, Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide: Killing or Caring? Paulist Press, Mahwah, NJ, 1998

Olen, Jeffery & Barry, Vincent. Applying Ethics: A Text With Readings (6th ed.) Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Company, 1999.

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