Is It Your Right to Die?

Final Draft
Jonathon Freeman-Anderson
English: Period 4
February 1, 1999

Euthanasia or Physician Assisted Suicide is a strongly debated subject. Euthanasia delves into moral, ethical, and personal issues, which is where most opposition comes into effect. Many of the people who oppose the “right to die” issue are the same people who oppose the death penalty and abortion issues. All these issues are life or death oriented. What makes the “right to die” issue stand out from the others is the fact that death in this instance is not being feared or run away from, but welcomed and gladly received by people with terminable or incurable diseases who are suffering everywhere. Most understandably, little measure if any has been taken to help these poor ailing people. The help has come in the form of a “living will,” a legal statute giving hospital patients the right to decide whether they want to be put on ventilators if certain circumstances succumb the patient. This “living will” sounds like a blessing, but the will in many instances is dishonored via legal matters or hospital issues. Some of these problems with the living will issue have cropped up from an ethical issue with doctors. Surprisingly though, there are doctors in the world such as Doctor Kavorkian who admit to helping terminable patients on a personal level commit suicide. These doctors have supposedly been helping patients die before “living wills” were even a glimmer in some apathetic politician’s eye. Oddly enough, even ‘if’ doctors were practicing euthanasia illegally for years, someone failed to mention the legal acts of death and permission to kill committed during war and law practice which many condole as sad, but understandable. Regardless of how the nonsense of war works, on the home front and abroad the “right to die” issue is reaching the world. The world is beginning to understand euthanasia through new laws in America and other countries. Whether physician assisted suicide is legalized in Australia or debated in the U.S. Supreme Court, the right to die is a very serious issue dealing with the choice of many people who are in a world of never-ending pain.
Euthanasia has been an issue on people\'s minds for a long time. Wondering why should someone suffer, this question was without response for a long time. The right to die issue lasted this way until some people made headlines for helping “murder” their terminally ill family member. Well, from here an outcry broke out. Protest groups were organized, the issue was on the cover of Time, “60 Minutes” did a piece on the issue, and a horrendous tidal wave of internet response took place all because some people finally broke down and took action. After politicians saw the response, an even greater response was taken to reinforce the already written law that euthanasia is illegal. All this activity took place in the early 90’s resulting in legal action in 1992 with a law known as the “living will” statute. This statute gives people the choice to be on life-support if such life-threatening circumstances persist. At first glance, the law is a dream come true for those who want a choice in their existence. The idea of a simple document with one question on whether or not a “heroic measure” should be taken to preserve the life of a patient is great. However, the broad reference this simple question pertains to takes different approaches by doctors and hospitals around the country. Some experts believe that detailed living wills with exact instructions are a better way to protect your rights, because doctors are more likely to follow specific instructions rather than broad guidelines. Other experts believe that detailed instructions give the doctor the ability to create double-meanings for patients’ specifications, which the doctor is supposed to respect. Ann Fade, Director of Legal Services at Choice in Dying, a national organization that helps people plan to die according to their values and desires, says “A detailed form is clever and simple. However, problematic because the people who create it do not understand the laws that govern medical practice and patient’s rights. The result is that people are not getting their living wills honored.” Instead of using this form, Fade recommends that people consult a physician before documenting “preferred”