Assisted Suicide Essay

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Assisted Suicide To sanction the taking of innocent human life is to contradict a primary purpose of law in an ordered society. A law or court decision allowing assisted suicide would demean the lives of vulnerable patients and expose them to exploitation by those who feel they are better off dead. Such a policy would corrupt the medical profession, whose ethical code calls on physicians to serve life and never to kill. The voiceless or marginalized in our society -- the poor, the frail elderly, racial minorities, millions of people who lack health insurance -- would be the first to feel pressure to die. What about competent, terminally ill people who say they really want assisted suicide? Suicidal wishes among the terminally ill are no less due to treatable depression than the same wishes among the able-bodied. When their pain, depression and other problems are addressed, there is generally no more talk of suicide. If we respond to a death wish in one group of people with counseling and suicide prevention, and respond to the same wish in another group by offering them lethal drugs, we have made our own tragic choice as a society that some people's lives are objectively not worth protecting. How does cost enter into this issue? In an era of cost control and managed care, patients with lingering illnesses may be branded an economic liability, and decisions to encourage death can be driven by cost. As Acting U.S. Solicitor General Walter Dellinger warned in urging the Supreme Court to uphold laws against assisted suicide: "The least costly treatment for any illness is lethal medication." Why are people with disabilities worried about assisted suicide? Many people with disabilities have long experience with prejudicial attitudes on the part of able-bodied people, including physicians, who say they would "rather be dead than disabled." Such

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