It's a tough call. If someone is suffering, how can we refuse them the right to die by choice? We provide this for animals, calling it humane. For people, wouldn't it be more humane?
On the other hand, helping someone to die is like murder unless it is legalized. My biggest concern would be someone taking advantage of this kind of situation, talking someone into doing it (or coercing them) for personal reasons (inheriting money, etc.).
Taking a life is something that seems unnatural to me: I can't imagine taking another's life, even if a person asked me to do so. In some ways it might be the greatest gift you could give someone who is suffering as we cannot imagine. However, I would be haunted by it for the rest of my life. And I'd have the doubt: "What if...?" What if what, you might ask? I have no idea, and that's something makes it so frightening to me.
Like the other posts, I see both sides to this complex issue. However, having gone through a situation similar to this with my own father, I find myself leaning for Assisted Suicide if it's what the patient wishes. I agree that older adults shouldn't be pressured to take their own lives simply because they're old, or an agency tells them too, but I cannot stand to see anyone suffering or living in pain. In my father's case he had no hope for recovery and would have spent the rest of his life attached to numerous machines and tubes. He would try to communicate with us, but no one could understand, and all we could understand was the pain in his eyes. Eventually, his kidneys gave out and we did not have to make the decision, but as a family we spent many days talking, praying, and consulting over him.
I think assisted suicide is an issue many people take a stance on until they have to face it in their own lives.
We spend so much energy fighting to be able to make choices as rational human beings: to vote, to marry, to have children, to follow a career path. It seems that the decisions about our own bodies should rest with us too. We would see that allowing an anima lin pain to continue to be so would be cruelty: why is the logic not the same for humans?
I think that this option should be available, so long as there are as many safeguards as possible to prevent its potential abuse. This is, as others have already suggested, an extremely difficult issue; if there were not potential for abuse, it would be a less difficult issue.
I view this issue as a libertarian. Who is the government to tell me when my life should end? I cannot think of a more personal, intimate decision than when to end your own suffering. As the law in Oregon has shown, there is a way to implement a policy making assisted suicide legal without it being 1) commonly used or 2) abused by family members.
We have reached a point scientifically where we can prolong human life much, much longer than we used to be able to. That doesn't mean we are adding quality years, per se. If I am terminally ill and/or elderly, I would rather die on my own terms than at the end of an expensive and possibly painful treatment process that ends with the same result, perhaps only months later. I might change my mind at some point, or if I was really faced with such a situation, but I would like to have the legal option nonetheless, and I think others should have that choice as well.
This is a question that I have struggled with since my father told me about his living will. On one hand, I have a hard time telling a doctor, regardless of my father's wishes, to "pull the plug." On the other hand, I know that I would not want to live in a state where I had to be fed by others and live only because of a machine.
I know that this is slightly off subject, but not much.
As for when one is so sick that they do not wish to carry on, who is really to say that they must? In the end, I would want to be as control over my life at the end as I was over the course of it.
I definitely believe people in extreme pain with no hope of recovering from their ailment have the right to end their own lives. I don't have a problem with a person supplying drugs to do so, but a second person's application of the drugs raises the lawful question of murder. Doctor-assisted or hospital-assisted suicide seems a better answer, but few doctors will be willing to risk their license, and few hospitals want to get into the business of ending lives, since their primary purpose is to heal people.
I think post number 4 has pointed out the big flaw in the debate of assisted suicide--the lack of adequate pain relief. Having had to make the end of life decision twice now, I truly believe that if pain relief was done correctly, much of the debate would disappear. I do know that with ALS or other diseases, the inability to move or even breathe is horrifying, but even the ability to breathe or not breathe can be helped with the proper medication. I have had doctors warn me about addiction to the pain meds that I allowed to be used. When told this, I simply indicated that neither I nor the person cared if they were addicted since they were dying. All that I cared about was that if this was the end, that comfort and care was all that was considered. Doctors are so trained to keep patients alive that we need to remind them that death is a part of life and must be dealt with so that patients are as comfortable as is possible.
Assisted suicide to me means someone else pushing a button or giving a medication. I have a great deal of difficulty with that idea, although someone who cannot move at all has no other means of dying, if he or she wishes to do so. What I have an easier time with is giving someone the wherewithal to commit suicide on his or her own. In that case, there is at least a presumption that the person has thought through the matter and has determined this is the best solution. It must be dreadful to be suffering and experience a complete lack of control, no means of escape. In this country, there seems to be inadequate provision for pain relief, which appears to be rooted in a fear of addiction, as though one should be worried about addiction in someone dying. If we cannot provide people with relatively pain-free endings, then we should make it easy for them to exit when they choose.
This is a tough one. I used to be against assissted suicide because I thought suicide/murder in general was wrong. However, I recently watched the movie "You Don't Know Jack" about Jack Kevourkian, the most well-know assisted-suicide doctor. It really made me see the suffering people do and the fact that helping them out of their suffering could be the most merciful way to treat them. I'm still on the fence though. I would say that letting someone die by removing life support is acceptable, but I still don't think it's right to speed up a person's death. There are just too many factors to consider, like whether the person is emotionally stable to make the decision, whether their prognosis is accurate, etc.
I tend to come down on the pro on this so long as there are safeguards. I don't like the idea of elders being pressured to kill themselves so they stop being a burden on their families. But, on the other hand, I think that people deserve to be able to die on their own terms. So, as long as there is enough in the way of red tape to make it difficult, I am in favor.
If one wants to die for whatever reason, one should have the right to. It's their life, we're speaking about! Although I have scepticism regarding direct suicide, like jumping off a bridge, assisted suicide sounds like the more humane approach to self termination.
The cons of suicide are that there is no going back. Also, you will mentally harm all of those who love you, and possibly ruin their lives.
Some years ago my granny was, to be horribly blunt, slowly dragging towards the end of a painful drawn out death. She had been bed-bound for years, very senile, unable to control her own bodily functions etc. Medical science was able to keep her body just about ticking and her entire life savings (a considerable sum) were spent on prolonging her misery and confused suffering. She died a few years ago and it was a great relief to her and her family.
At the same time, our well-loved dog develope cancer of the rectum. The vet said he could keep him alive for maybe 6 months or so, but he told us that the dog would be in constant pain and would decline physically to an inevitable conclusion. After a family meeting and a weekend where we really made our dog feel loved and special, I took him to the vet and while I held his head, the vet euthanaised him. It was very quick and painless.
I find it obscene that I was allowed to give my dog the dignity and relief that I was not allowed to give to Granny Helen.