Assisted Suicide: Should It Be Legal?
The Pros & Cons
Health Care Law & Ethics
Every human being has a right to life, perhaps the most basic and fundamental of all our rights. However, with every right comes a choice. The right to speech does not remove the option to remain silent; the right to vote brings with it the right to abstain. In the same way, the right to choose to die is implicit in the right to life.
Those who are in the late stages of a terminal disease have a horrific future ahead of them: the gradual decline of their body, the failure of their organs and the need for artificial support. In some cases, the illness will slowly destroy their minds, the essence of themselves; even if this is not the case, the huge amounts of medication required to ‘control’ their pain will often leave them in a delirious and incapable state. Faced with this, it is surely more humane that those people be allowed to choose the manner of their own end, and die with dignity.
Suicide is a lonely, desperate act, carried out in secrecy and often as a cry for help. The impact on the family who remain can be catastrophic. In some cases, families might have been unaware of the true feelings of their loved one; being forced to confront the issue of their illness may do great good, perhaps even allowing them to persuade the patient not to end their life. In other cases, it makes them part of the process: they can understand the reasons behind their decision without feelings of guilt and recrimination, and the terminally ill patient can speak openly to them about their feelings before their death.
At the moment, doctors are often put into an impossible position. A good doctor will form close bonds with their patients, and will want to give them the best quality of life they can; however, when a patient has lost or is losing their ability to live with dignity and expresses a strong desire to die, they are legally...