Assisted Suicide Cannot be a Right Everyone who is born will die. All humans face death sooner or later in their lifetime. It is the wish of many, especially suffering individuals, to die peacefully and without pain. Death is beyond our control, but should we be allowed to decide the time of our death? There are proponents on both sides of this controversial issue, but with all the complications and dangers associated with legalizing assisted suicide, it should not become an option available to anyone. Many believe that individuals suffering immensely physically deserve the right to end their pain.
Why should not patients with incurable diseases be allowed to terminate their misery and find relief for themselves? It seems unreasonable to some that those with terminal illnesses should suffer through what is left of their life in agony knowing that there is no hope for a cure. Yet, the many consequences of legalizing assisted suicide must be considered thoroughly. If assisted suicide becomes a fundamental right for certain patients, there will be no logical way to limit the right to only a small number of exceptional cases. Such is the dilemma faced by the few countries that have permitted assisted suicide to be legalized. If assisted becomes legal, where will the boundary be set at who can receive the treatment? When it first became legal for doctors to induce deaths in the Netherlands, the permits were granted only when a patient was experiencing unbearable pain or terminally ill.
Twenty years after euthanasia became legal in the nation, however, the guidelines under physicians inducing death have come to include depressed patients who are physically healthy, patients who repeatedly and voluntarily request death, elders, and individuals with severe disabilities. There is not a standard tool that can be used to measure how immensely an individual is suffering. There is no limit that can be set and unchangeable. The border set for those who can choose to use assisted suicide is edged wider each time a physician or individual wins a legal breakthrough. If assisted suicide becomes legal, it cannot be kept from eventually becoming available to many in virtually all circumstances.
The legalization of assisted suicide also endangers many in unfavorable circumstances. Not all those euthanized are choosing to end their lives. For instance, several cases in the 1991 Remmelink Report on euthanasia reveals that there are many cases in the Netherlands where patients are involuntarily euthanized. Babies born mentally retarded or with birth defects are being denied the chance of life. It is common for pediatricians to kill newborns in their cribs. Doctors may make the presumption that those with severe disabilities would rather die than live.
Without laws forbidding aid to suicides, real danger of murder being committed under the pretext of assisting a suicide arises. The legalizing of assisted suicide takes away the protection of the lives of the vulnerable. Not only does assisted suicide endanger life, it may lead to the denying of adequate aid for patients. Legalizing assisted suicide may dispose physicians and patients to end lives of great suffering rather than attempt to ease them by using the means already at hand for relief of pain. Doctors may consider not to waste the effort to relieve the pain and depression of patients with medication and aid when there is a more convenient and permanent treatment option. Some patients will be deprived of appropriate medication and mental guidance. What would keep cynical individuals from encouraging those suffering to end their lives so that they can eliminate the burden of caring and spending money on the patient? Ailing elders might be put under the pressure to speed up their deaths from impatient relatives and cost-conscious health insurance providers, including the government. Society would gradually be pushing for the death of its members.
If the disabled, chronically ill, or terminally ill people are declared better off dead, which group of people will be next? Once the right is granted for some, what will stop others from gaining the right? Death becomes the easy and permanent solution for individuals who are suffering perhaps only temporary pain. Ill-considered decisions to terminate life cannot be prevented and murder will become all easier. The complications and dangers of legalizing assisted suicide far outweigh the possible benefits. To provide necessary protection of life, assisted suicide cannot be considered and offered to people under any circumstance. We need to push for the repealing of laws that grant assisted suicide to individuals and prevent any other measures that may legalize the act from being passed.