Physician Assisted Suicide Should Be Legalized

1847 words - 7 pages

Angela Gao March, 2005physician assisted suicide should be legalizedPhysician assisted suicide (PAS) refers to a practice in which the physician assist a patient to end his or her own life, in a painless or minimally painful way, for merciful reasons (encyclopedia.laborlawtalk.com). Its main purpose is to end patients' suffering. PAS is an intentional termination of life to the terminally ill patients and carried out with physicians' help such as supplying information or means of committing suicide like a prescription for lethal dose of sleeping pills, or a supply of carbon monoxide gas to patients, so that patients can easily end their own lives (R. Pitts).PAS is classified into two categories: voluntary and involuntary PAS. Voluntary PAS is practiced under the patients' request. Involuntary PAS is done to the people who do not request to die or cannot express their intention of death. This case is often used to the patients who are in a Persistent Vegetative State and will probably never recover consciousness again. PAS, whether voluntary or involuntary, should be legalized because it relieves the suffering of the terminally ill patients, saves resources for society, and alleviates the burden of the patients' families.Firstly, PAS aims at relieving patients' suffering. These patients have terminally illness and are suffering unbearable physical and emotional pain. Under the current medical technique, no treatment can help them. For instance, some patients catch wasting diseases. Their body tissues are degenerative and gradually rotten. Their bodies are shrinking and drying. Their lives are coming to an end within short time (Humphry). In Canada, approximately 4000 people commit suicide each year, and about 500 of them are over 65 years old. Half of the elderly people who commit suicide are deeply depressed for excruciating psychiatric and uncontrollable physical illness (Calgary Health Region). These people do not want to wait for death with pain. Also, there are many terminally ill patients who even do not have the ability to commit suicide without assistance. Should they be forced to wait painfully until their ends come naturally or should they get the doctors' help to end their suffering peacefully? Dr Patrick Dixon, a former specialist, who had cared the dying patients with cancer and AIDS for many years, said, "People are often more afraid of the process of dying than of death itself."PAS can also be carried out to save huge expenses and resources. Both government and patients' families have to support the expenses coming from medical treatment, medicine, and nursing. It is impossible to settle this expense for poor families. The resources include medicine, medical instrument, physicians, nurses, and even the space in hospital. These expenses and resources can be used for many other patients who are on the hospital's long waiting list and their ill states are much slighter than the terminally ill patients. PAS especially benefits the...

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