Should physician-assisted suicide be legal?Should physician-assisted suicide be legal?

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belarafon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I hate to say it, but I think it should be legal. No person capable of making a decision should be forced by the state to live in pain or in the knowledge that their mind is going. Author Terry Pratchett -- my favorite living fantasy author -- is suffering from a form of Alzheimer's that degrades his spatial recognition and mental connectivity. He has spoken publicly about his condition, and how he wishes to die at his own behest, of his own free will, instead of being slowly killed by the disease bit-by-bit. I hate it, I really do, but I hate more the thought of a rational person forced to live in that way. I support his right to die if he so chooses, and the rights of other rational people. Remember, it is far easier to kill yourself than people think, so determined people are going to get it done. However, I do not think there should be any higher authority dictating quality of life; only the person can make that judgement.

Now, that does NOT touch on the issue of "unplugging," or allowing comatose people to die either through inaction or through medicine. I don't want to get into that; it becomes entirely a case-by-case rational.

readerofbooks eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is an extremely controversial topic and there are thoughts on both sides. Let me give you some considerations.

First, there is a huge moral / religious dimension. Many people do not believe it is in our power to take a life, even out own. Who knows what will happen to the person? Perhaps the person will get well or later on change their mind (with suicide there is not second chance). Moreover, what if the person is not thinking correctly, because that person is sick?

Second, there are legal ramifications. As it stand, it is not legal to help someone commit suicide (as a physician). There is good reason for this. There are many variables in death, such as inheritance issues, which may complicate issues.

Third, the above two points are against physician assisted suicide, but on the other side, there is thought of the will and the suffering of the person in view. Perhaps, it is most loving to let people go without suffering.

In the end, I do not believe that there should be physician assisted suicides mainly due to religious reason.

enotechris eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Those who hold religious or ethical scruples against the practice are free not to engage in suicide, physician-assisted or not.  One individual or group cannot make moral decisions for another individual or group; such moral decisions are up to the individual making them.  Your life is your own, to do with as you wish.

Most want to live full and lengthy lives; but for whatever reason someone decides to die, that decision must be honored. Of course, I would hope there would be counseling and guidance, but ultimately it's a decision that that individual must make for him or her self.

rrteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A person ought to have control over their own life, and if that means choosing to die when things get as bad as they clearly are for some people suffering from terminal and degenerative illnesses, then that's what it means. I agree with those, however, who have said that this needs to be a process, not a knee-jerk reaction, that comes at the end of much "counseling and guidance," to quote post #8. End of life care is becoming a major issue in the medical field, and this is one issue that needs to be discussed and seriously considered, in my opinion.

lmetcalf eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This issue opens so many other related discussions that I almost can't answer the direct question. No one can stop a person from killing himself if they really want to, but I just keep coming back to the idea that the doctor is ultimately the one "killing" not the person him or herself, and I can't fathom having that job. There are so many moral and ethical issues, and without safeguards, it could turn into an absolute disaster for so many people.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

For me, yes.  I think that people have the right to decide when they want to die.  However, I would emphasize that there need to be safeguards.  We can't have people deciding to die on the spur of the moment.  We can't have people being coerced to die because their relatives don't want to care for them.  If we can prevent things like that, then I believe that people should have this right.

literaturenerd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I too believe that it should be legal. I think that a person should be able to decide if they wish to live or die. There should be certain parameters though (similar to those when considering a person's mental stability). I simply think that assisted suicide is a much more humane way "to go."

najm1947 | Student

I have a different point of view towards such social problems that has relation to religion and before coming to the topic question, I would like to narrate a very common situation. We use many sophisticatedly designed and produced items like automatic house-hold appliances. Do we put them into use for functions other than intended by the manufacturer? What happens if we do so? There is a high probability of damage to the item being used.  To avoid such a situation, the manufacturer provides a book - ‘The User Manual’. If we go by the book, we ensure the safety and long life of the item.

Similar is the case with the human beings. We have to follow ‘The Book’ provided by the Creator ‘God’ that provides ‘The Code of Conduct’ for the creation – ‘The Human’. We can ensure safety, health, tranquility and peace only through going by ‘The Book’.

God has condemned the killing of innocent very strongly. In Judaism, Christianity and Islam we can refer to Psalm  16:37-42, Matthew 23:35-36, Proverbs 6:16-19 and Koran 5:32.

.. he who kills a person without the latter being guilty of killing another or doing evil in the land, then his action is such that he had killed all mankind. And he who saves one life and if he had saved all mankind... Koran 5:32

Suicide is taking life and killing, assisted or otherwise, it is not allowed and must not be legalized. Who knows us better than our Creator? 

bhawanipur | Student

My views are a combination of post #2 and #3. There are phylosophical conceptios that a person can never kill someone or even cannot get killed unless the time has come. Yet, man suffers a lot because of various diseases and deformation in bodies whether it is because of his own or destiny. It becomes too painful to tolerate and yearns to get rid of earthly sufferings commiting suicide. But if it is made legal also, nothing will happen. Even if the physicians come to help people to commit suicide, all will not be able to take such decision. According to me, man always try to live until his last breath and stay for more in spite of his untold miseries. Man considers this mateial body as "i" and finds it  a instrument to enjoy in this world with his organs. However, now a days, suicide is considered a kind of mental disease. If it haunts him again and again, someone may decide to do so. Even than, at the last moment a man may not die.