Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Euthanasia and Physician Assisted Suicide :: Death Medical Medicine Essays

Euthanasia and Physician Assisted Suicide To die or not to die, that is not the question if you've been diagnosed with a terminal disease in America. The question is how. Should you be forced to suffer all the pain the disease brings, or should your doctor be able to legally help you die in a peaceful, painless way? That is the question that the Supreme Court, religious groups, physicians, and many others are trying to answer. The problem is that it doesn't have a clear answer. Oncologist Ezekiel Emanuel (1997) addresses the issues of physician-assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia and explains why Americans ought to think twice before legalizing physician-assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia. He begins by explaining the difference between the two methods. Physician-assisted suicide is when the doctor gives you the means, such as drugs, which you administer yourself. Voluntary euthanasia, however, is when the doctor actually performs the fatal procedure after the patient has confirmed his/her wish to die. (1) Following this explanation, Ezekiel uses historical references, cites court cases, scientific studies, and case studies from other countries to support his position. He also maintains that there are four myths that have been perpetuated which imply the following: 1) The issue of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide is relatively new, born from technological advances. 2) There is strong support for physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia . 3) Patients in the most extreme pain are the most interested in physician-assisted suicide or euthanasia. 4) Euthanasia practices in the Netherlands prove that physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia will not get out of control here in America. (2-4) Emanuel dispels these myths one by one. In response to myth #1, he quotes the Hippocratic oath, which specifically opposes euthanasia. Emanuel claims that euthanasia was often provided at the time that the Oath was written. He dates the beginnings of the euthanasia debate in America back to 1870, and presents historical facts to support his response. (2) Regarding myth #2, Emanuel blames "vague" poll questions for those which show that the majority of Americans support physician-assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia. Research, which he cites, has shown that support for these practices does decrease when patients aren't described as terminally ill and experiencing constant, intense pain. (3) Studies in both the Netherlands and Washington state are used to refute myth #3. Both report that the minority of people who request euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide are actually requesting it due to severe, unrelenting pain.

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