Assisted-Suicide Right Or Wrong Assisted-Suicide Right or Wrong Deciding when to die and when to live is an issue that has only recently begun to confront patients all over the world. There is an elderly man lying in a hospital bed, he just had his fourth heart attack and is in a persistent vegetative state. He is hooked up to a respirator and has more tubes and IV’s going in and out of his body everywhere. These kinds of situations exist in every hospital everyday. Should physicians or doctors be allowed to assist patients, like this one, in death? Even though, physician-assisted suicide is illegal in the U.S., many doctors are helping suffering patients die. Physicians should not provide treatments that have a low chance of succeeding, such as respirators for patients in a permanent vegetative state.
Rita L. Maker, an attorney and executive director of the International Anti-Euthanasia Task Force, believes “the debate isn’t about the tragic, personal act of suicide, nor is it about attempted suicide .. the current debate is about whether public policy should be changed in a way that will transform prescriptions from poison into medical treatment”(45). Oregon is the only state that allows assisted suicide. A doctor will prescribe medication and the pharmacist will say “be sure to take all of these pills at one time-with a light snack or alcohol-to induce death”(45).
The states insurance companies pay for the medication, which are paid for by Medicaid called “comfort care”(46). “Whether other states embrace Oregon-style care will depend upon a willingness to carefully examine what truly is at stake in this debate .. about public policy”(46). It does not matter about your point of view on physician-assisted suicide; it’s the layout and plan that matters. For example “Walter Dellinger, acting solicitor general, said ‘the least costly treatment for any illness is lethal medication’ he was right.
A prescription for a deadly overdose runs about thirty five dollars .. the patient won’t consume any more health care dollars”(Marker 46). Whenever the economy was involved there was always a major hill to climb. Not to long ago patients were told to come in to get check ups that were not necessary. All the hospitals and clinics got paid back for everything they did to the patient.
Finally, people became smarter and started to say no the unnecessary treatments. Now their income relates to the information they provide, the less the better. Marker reports that in recent years “a significant number of health-maintenance organizations or HMO’s are ‘for-profit’ enterprises where stockholder benefit, not patient well-being, is the bottom line”(47). There are programs that allow physicians from telling the whole truth. The doctor will say one thing when it really means something different and usually it is for the worse.
Not many people research into their medical coverage until they are sick. Once that happens you are not going to have a clue what your plan covers. Marker stresses that “having a physician friend who would talk over a planned assisted-suicide before prescribing a lethal dose is nothing more than a fantasy for the vast majority of American”(48). Today, if its a patients first visit it will be no longer than twenty minutes and if the patient returns its visit will be ten minutes. Another example is that some medical programs want doctors to not treat patients right a way and will usually cause a conflict.
Marker points out “a survey published in 1998 in the Archives of Internal Medicine .. found that doctors who are the most thrifty when it comes to medical expenses would be six times more likely than their counterparts to provide a lethal prescription”(48). If a physician is truthfully against assisted-suicide he or she will offer every possible alternative to the patient. To sum it all up, Wesley Smith, an attorney and consumer advocate, expresses “the last people to receive medical care will be the first to receive assisted-suicide”(qtd. in Marker 49). If we embrace assisted suicide as medical treatment, it will return our embrace with a death grip that is cold, cruel and anything but compassionate”(49). On the other hand, Marcia Angell, executive editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, it should not be a crime for doctors to respect the wishes of terminally ill patients who want assistance in committing suicide. She start of her argument by referring to a Supreme Court decision in which,” they found dying patient [sic] have no right to decide for themselves to cut short their suffering by asking their doctors to prescribe an overdose of sleeping pills or painkillers.” The court said it is the state legislatures fault for having laws on physician-assisted suicide.
So the patient will not have a choice if he or she wants to die unless the state changes the laws. Angell claims that,” the Supreme Court missed the point: Dying can be slow and agonizing, and some people simply want to get it over with.” The only legal option patients have is if they want their life support shut down. Too bad most patients are not on life support so they can not request it (33-34). Angell has no clue why the legislature would make a patient suffer when he or she does not want to suffer anymore. She goes on pleading that this is the same choice the Supreme Courts allows when people abort their babies and when people get married. “Dying patients suffering intractably should have the option of taking and overdose, just as they have the option of turning off life supports” argues Angell. Even if the doctor prescribed pills to the patient in most cases would not take them. But, due to the fact, that the patient had the option of taking the pills would make them happy. When the patient thinks the time is right can take the pills in peace (34).
Doctors then would have the option, too. No one would be “pressured to ask for assisted suicide .. [or] pressured to refuse life supports”(34). The Supreme Courts verdict was a whitewash against doctor-assisted suicide, 9-0. The justices’ opinions pretty much all said “the notion that permitting doctor-assisted suicide would be too great a departure from tradition, and besides, god palliative care should relieve all suffering”(34). Angell concludes “compassionate doctors always have helped dying patients to end their lives”(34).
Even though this is all done under the table, by the doctor supplying the patient with mass quantities of a certain prescription. Only if the doctor is strong inside and knows what the patients needs instead of wants then the doctor should prescribe a drug. She states that “polls consistently show about two-thirds of the public favor permitting doctor-assisted suicide”(35). Finally she sums it all up by saying “sooner or later .. the practice will become legal, because dying patients need that choice and their doctors need to be able to help them”(35).
Timothy E. Quill, M.D., practicing physician, wrote this article in the New England Journal of Medicine, which pertains to aiding someone to death. Diane, Quills’ patient for eight years, was feeling weak and had a breakout on her skin. Quill did some blood work. Many years of Diane’s life was lost as an alcoholic and a depressed person, but she fought her way out of it (111).
Although the odds were against her, Quill let her be aware of the consequences she would face when they get the bone marrow test back and what they would do if the results were not so good (111). The test came back and the oncologist diagnosed Diane with ‘acute myelomonocytic leukemia.’ The oncologist wanted to put a Hickman catheter and start chemo as soon as possible. Quill recalled that “[Diane] was enraged at [the oncologists] presumption that she would want treatment, and devastated by the finality of the diagnosis. All …