Assisted Suicide and Reasons Against It

Introduction

Assisted suicide denotes measures by which a person or a group of people assist another person to voluntary bring about his or her own death. It may also describe how a doctor helps a terminally ill person to die.

Assisted suicide

In many cultures, suicide has remained the best choice in certain circumstances. On the contrary, the Christian faith views suicide as immoral being an act against the will of God. The argument over assisted suicide is not a merely speculative argument. It is a real-world argument involving many factual claims. Everywhere in the world, they are occurring disputes over physician-assisted suicide as an argument among those who favour patient autonomy and personal choice, on one hand, and those who are concerned about the erosion of protection against killing. Other concerns involve the avoidance of pain. I find the truth to be lying somewhere in between (Herbert, 2002).

However, the question that remains paramount is whether an individual has the right to control the circumstances surrounding their death or left to God and nature? On the other hand, can we honour the right to die without subtly creating an obligation to die? ( Prado, 2000).

Reasons against assisted suicide

It’s only God who gives life, and it is only he who can take it away. No man or woman can take it upon him/herself to terminate life.

Optimism about a cure; it is argued that we should own our relatives who are sick because the cure can be discovered any time, even tomorrow.

The sanctity of human life; human life is said to be valuable, which has an intrinsic value and therefore, it should be respected at all levels. If we lose respect for human life, then we are likely to extend assisted suicide to other people that we do not like. The study has shown that guidelines for assisted death sometimes are not strictly followed and some doctors, out of paternalistic belief know what the patient would have wanted and hence ending a patient’s life without a specific request.

Possibility of error in medical diagnosis; medicine is not an exact science which is why sometimes there are mistakes in medical diagnosis. When this happens, mercy killing does not allow correcting mistake (Sheila, 2010).

Violation of professional ethics; physicians have been trained to maintain and respect human life; they are not supposed to use their knowledge against human life. Physicians are professionally required to respect life at all times. In addition, professional integrity for doctors dictates that they can ever be true to their role as healers while directly participating in patient death.

If assisted suicide becomes a routine practice, abuses are bound to occur probably in considerable numbers mostly among stigmatized groups such as persons with disabilities and those suffering from HIV. No patient who has relatives has an absolute right over his life and therefore cannot ask to terminate his /her life without the consent of relatives. The patient should not dictate to physicians what should be done to their life. The decision should be left to physicians. World Health Organization recommends that governments should not legalize physician-assisted suicide until they have demonstrated the full availability and practice of palliative care for all citizens. For most nations in the world, we have a long way to go to reach this goal (Jocelyn, 2004).

According to John Stuart, liberty is the power of an individual to make personal choices, and if a person makes a choice that limits his or her capacity to make other choices, then it should be prevented. However, while this argument seems to make a strong case against assisted suicide, physician approval of and involvement in assisted suicide also bears a lot of weight. This is because death is being increasingly acknowledged as an integral part of human life. Dying has ceased to be something fearfully unspoken and involves the community both as an event and as an issue.

First, physicians have a moral obligation to use medical means to relieve their patients suffering. In some cases, a prolonged life will be incompatible with relief from suffering a factor that can make a medic to use medical means to shorten life directly.

Medical doctors have a moral obligation to respect the choice and desire of their patient. Sometimes even when given palliative care, some patients often choose assisted suicide. In such a case, the physician has no choice other than respecting the patients call. A physician caring for a terminally ill patient ought to be able to promise the patient that he/she will be there by the patient side no matter what comes. In case a patient experiences unbearable suffering, and requests for assisted suicide, refusal by the physician may result in patient neglect (Robert, 1997).

Conclusion

To sum it up, before opting to choose assisted suicide, it is advisable to explore a number of all available alternatives. In addition, it is necessary to involve all the stakeholders such as the Physician, Patient Nurses and Relatives in order to come up with an informed decision.

References

Herbert, M. D. (2002). The case against assisted suicide for the right to end of life care. Maryland: The John Hopkins University Press.

Jocelyn, G.D. (2004). Dying justice. A case for decriminalizing Euthanasia & Assisted suicide in Canada. University of Toronto Press.

Prado, C. G. (2000). Assisted suicide Canadian perspective. University of Ottawa Press.

Robert, F.W. (1997). Physician assisted suicide. Indiana University Press.

Sheila, A. M. (2010). Autonomy, consent and the law. New York: Biomedical law and Ethics library Routledge-Cavendish. Oxon.