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Monday, October 5, 2015

Morality of Assisted Suicide

Today, the Governor of California, Jerry Brown, signed Senate Bill 128 or the "End of Life Option Act" which allows certain terminally ill patients to have a doctor prescribe them a lethal dose of medication. Currently, capital punishment is being debated as whether or not it is moral, and this is for prisoners who have committed capital acts; yet, some states are passing bills to allow people to end their own lives with the aid of others. So, how can our country be so divided? The part that is in favor of capital punishment generally seems to be against these assisted suicide bills and vise-versa.

Both sides of this argument that claim that they are morally sound. One claims that assisted suicide is justifiable because they make their own decision to end their lives, and that this is not necessarily the case with punishment. The opposition to assisted suicide makes the point that not all diagnostics are correct and could be wrong, other opposition claims that doctors should not have the power to end a patients life as is directly violates the Hippocratic Oath, specifically the clause which states (specifically the clause which states "First do no harm") which almost all doctors must take. But the pro-assisted suicide do bring up a good point, is not not less moral to let a person suffer until their death then to allow a quick, painless one?


  1. Paul, I think that you bring up a good argument. This is an important topic because it deals with life or death situations. I think that your last question was a good questions to ask - wouldn't it be better to allow a person to opt out of suffering? I think that if I person is in a mental state to make decisions, that that person should be able to do so.

  2. I think that the idea of assisted suicide, in the hands of trusted people, is a good one. Sadly, I think that there could be some people who would be willing to help kill anyone, regardless of if they are actually in pain, or possibly suffering from a mental illness. Also, at what point in someones life does it become okay to do this? Should there be an age limit, or certain ypes of diseases the person mus have?

  3. This is an interesting topic to bring up, and either decision could have huge effects on patients' lives. I wanted to offer a perspective from a doctor's point of view; my mother is a doctor in Oregon, where doctor-assisted suicide is legal.

    She has explained to me that there is a long process of counseling and discussion involved in the decision to end a patient's life. In many cases, a patient is clearly alive only because he or she is connected to a lot of machines and taking a lot of expensive medicines, and a lot of the money to cover these resources could be allocated to other areas. For example, she had a patient once who was in her 80's. The patient was happy with her life and felt ready to die, and as you mentioned, was in intense pain. Even if there were a way to cure any or all of the conditions she suffered, she couldn't have had more than a few years left to live anyway. Machines could have kept her alive for months longer, but she would never have recovered enough to be self-sufficient. She was covered under a health plan that is funded through taxes. In the same week, my mother was treating a woman in her early 30's whose husband had recently died. The woman needed an expensive procedure to keep her alive to raise her toddler daughter. There are many taxpayer programs to help pay hospital bills for very old patients, but fewer to help single mothers. I don't believe it's ethical to value one life over another based on that person's future "potential," but I do think that legalizing doctor-assisted suicide could help reduce the money needed for Medicaid and similar programs, and hopefully increase the funding for plans that support young families. All things considered, though, any law dealing with death is tricky, and has a lot of angles.

  4. I think that if someone is terminally ill and is suffering day after day with no cure in sight, they should be able to choose their own fate. If they want to choose to end their own life and put themselves out of their misery, they should be allowed to do that.

  5. I agree with Matt, if someone wants to end their life they should have that choice. It is a serious thing to decide but you should be the one who controls your future, not the government.