My cousin died after battling a brain tumor for six years. Before being diagnosed, she had moved to Dallas, got engaged and planned to be a teacher. At her time of death, she did not even look like the same person. One of my mother's closest friends, Joan, a registered nurse, died of cancer a few years ago. It had been in remission several times and came back aggressively. She was very tall (5' 11) and when she died, she weighed about 100 pounds. Almost a decade ago, my family traveled to Vermont to visit my step-grandfather in a skilled-nursing facility. He had been an articulate man who now could only yell indiscriminately and incomprehensibly (he died within months after our visit). My step-father said, If I ever get like that, slip me a pill. I think he meant it too. My step-father, an Ivy-league graduate with a JD, is an intelligent man. He would not want to revert to being a child: helpless in his ability to express himself and in lack of function in caring for himself on a daily basis. This is about the choice of how one wants to live and how one wants to spend one's final days and how one wants to die. Would someone want to be on life supporta respirator-- or a feeding tube?
[...] In the first 56 cases of physician-assisted suicide that occurred in Oregon since the implementation of the Oregon Death with Dignity Act, the reason to seek a physician's help in ending one's life was not due to pain but due to worries about loss of autonomy and control. “Arguments supporting physician-assisted suicide highlight the duty to relieve suffering or stem from a vigorous understanding of the duty to respect patient autonomy. The suffering of patients at the end of life can be great. [...]
[...] The Harris Poll conducted in December 2001 among a nationwide sample of adults found that 65% believed that physicians should comply with the desires of a dying patient who asks to end his or her life agreed with the Oregon proposition that allowed for physician- assisted suicide for patients with six month to live. Against The medical profession has as a duty in general to protect the value of human life. This would apply to vulnerable members of society: the infirm, the dying and the elderly. [...]
[...] We did not go to the hospital and have the “mechanization of medicine, with its artificial nutrition and hydration, intubation therapy, and mechanical respiration, has been rapidly expanded for use with those in acute respiratory failure and other chronically ill in the ICU.” (Jamison) Description of physician-assisted suicide Physician-assisted suicide is when a doctor provides the means for a patient to commit suicide but the patient commits the act. A physician writes a prescription for a lethal dosage of a medication, the patient fills the prescription and takes it so that she or he can die in his or her sleep. [...]
[...] Legislation relating to physician-assisted suicide There are no federal laws or laws in Massachusetts or New Hampshire regarding physician-assisted suicide. In 2006, New Hampshire did pass a controversial law (deemed so because many believe it has the potential to be a gateway to assisted-suicide legislation) which becomes effective in January 2007. HB 656 allows use of do-not-resuscitate (DNR) orders to move with the patient and permits patients' advance directives to indicate a wish not to receive cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). In 1997, the state of Oregon passed the Death with Dignity Act which allows terminally-ill Oregonians (it only applies to those with resident status) to end their lives through the “voluntary self-administration of lethal medications, expressly prescribed by a physician for than purpose.” A patient must be at least 18 years of age, capable of making and communicating any healthcare decisions and have been diagnosed with a terminal illness that gives them six months to live (as determined by an attending physician). [...]
[...] Opponents of physician-assisted suicide also believe in a “good death.” Palliative care is a large part of a good death. It provides relief but does not provide a cure. It involves pain management combined with emotional and spiritual support. Often Western medicine is combined with Eastern medicine (acupuncture, aromatherapy) to treat patients. It is the acceptance of the dying process and the natural life span. Some palliative care providers have fear that “assisted death may come to be seen as commonplace, and cease to be viewed with appropriate gravity.” (Hurst) My opinion As with the right to choose to have an abortion or to have a child, ending one's life is a personal decision, one that the government or the medical establishment should not prohibit. [...]
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