Physician- Assisted Suicide
"Has been a lifesaver so many times!"
- Catherine Rampell, student @ University of Washington
"Exactly the help I needed."
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"The best place for brainstorming ideas."
- Michael Majchrowicz, student @ University of Kentucky
Physician- Assisted Suicide
Recently, a patient with throat cancer was transferred to Queen Elizabeth II hospital in Halifax from Moncton Hospital. Queen Elizabeth II Hospital is a cancer specialty hospital. Six weeks after the transfer, the patient died and was returned home for burial. The family was shocked to find a doctor, who worked in the intensive care unit, was charged with first degree murder of a patient who was diagnosed with throat cancer.
In Oregon, physician- assisted suicide was passed into law. The law, the death with dignity act, was passed three years ago by a two- percent margin. It allows people over the age of 18 to obtain lethal doses of drugs if they have six months or less to live. "They unleashed a force in this in nation too powerful to control", says Carrie Gordon, bioethics analyst for focus on the family in Colorado Springs.
There has grown a new fear in American society today and that is the fear of the hospital. This fear has grown with in the past thirty to forty years. The role of hospitals has changed from a shelter of the sick and the poor to a place where high- tech machinery tends to frighten and scare many. This seems to be another factor that has fueled the fire for euthanasia. II. Is Aging a Problem?
Answering this question with a simple yes or no statement would not do it justice. In 1985, the percentage of the American population over 65 was 11%. It has been projected that in fewer than fifty years the figure could jump to 20%. Also, it was documented that number of people over 85 will triple and the number of people to reach 100 years of age will grow four folds . From 1981 to 1986, the suicide rate elderly Americans increased 25% .
As we all know, the elderly tend to have more financial stability than the younger generations. In recent years the amount of funding dedicated to Medicare and other healthcare supplements has been cut back. This will cause a serious problem as the population ages heading into the next millennium and it seems that the federal government does not or could not care. "Our society needs to learn to debate the issues around the situation," says Joanne Lynn M.D. So, with this in mind it would seem that there will be many more states to adopt the "Right to choose" laws to save money. As costs rise, so will the suicide rate among the elderly because many will feel like a burden upon their family. Is this way we want our society to become, or has it become that way already given the statistics of suicide rates?
The Church is faced with this very problem. Can the church proclaim it's view on death effectively in an age where human life is not valued? Will the teachings of the Church overcome this great obstacle?
III. Positions for Physician- Assisted suicide
Some people say we should allow people to chose when it is their time to die because it is their life. Some say we treat our animals more humanely when it comes to the terminally ill. The question is why should we allow this type of rhetoric to be practiced or passed into law. Some authors have published ideas that need to be viewed.
One of these authors is Antony Flew who wrote an essay entitled "The Principle of Euthanasia". The first idea he presents is patients with incurable and painful diseases. He points out laws that allow people to suffer and have others watch the patient's bear their pain is a law of cruelty. Secondly, he states the claim that any law that allows patients to suffer until "death by natural cause is degrading. These points are followed not by an all out assault proclaiming lawmakers should allow euthanasia as a tool to cure the common cold, but he believes this "treatment" should be administered to patients who request it in a sane, conscience state of mind .
IV. Fear in the Medical field
With the recent passing of the law in Oregon, doctors have grown fearful "that a shroud of secrecy will cloak this practice so that it will be impossible to expose abuses or reverse course" . When
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Euthanasia, Medical ethics, Assisted suicide, Jack Kevorkian, Suicide, Legality of euthanasia, Assisted suicide in the United States
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