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Legalizing Physician-Assisted Suicide for Terminally Ill Patients

Introduction

Even though we now live in the 21st century, the issue of legalizing physician-assisted suicide (PSA) continues to stir public controversy in many Western countries, as if Christian moralists that seriously believe in the concept of life’s sanctity, were still in a position of designing these countries’ socio-political policies. This situation appears especially bizarre, given the fact that, throughout the course of recent centuries, it is namely Western nations that contributed the most towards the process of civilization ridding itself of religious prejudices.

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Nevertheless, in today’s America, not a day goes by without self-appointed guardians of “Christian values” coming up with public statements that are meant to undermine the validity of an idea that, even terminally ill patients should remain sovereign masters of their destinies.

This can be explained by the fact that the majority of those who support these “values” are being simply incapable of embracing the idea that America has become a multicultural country, which is why moralists’ stance on the issue of legalization of PSA actually exposes their perceptional narrow-mindedness. The course of our speech will aim at strengthening the validity of this thesis even further, while also explaining the reasons why the practice of PSA is going to attain a fully legitimate status in the very near future.

Main part

When an individual, endowed with the sense of logic, gets to be exposed to the arguments, on the part of those who oppose PSA, he naturally begins to wonder as to whether these people can be considered as being fully adult, because they strive for nothing short of adjusting an objective reality to the set of their obscure beliefs. Let us quote from Arthur J. Dyck’s book “Life’s Worth: The Case against Assisted Suicide”, so that we get a better idea as to conceptual falseness of the very premise, upon which Bible-thumping moralists base their argumentation, in regards to the legalization of PSA: “Euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide violate the moral responsibility to treat human beings as having incalculable worth” (Dyck, 2002, p.69).

First of all – the “incalculable worth” of a person’s life is nothing but a myth. As Jack London had put it in his famous novel “Sea Wolf”: “Why, if there is anything in supply and demand, life is the cheapest thing in the world. There is only so much water, so much earth, so much air; but the life that is demanding to be born is limitless” (London, 1901, Ch. 6).

Second of all – even if the notion of life’s sanctity did correspond to objective reality, there would still be no reason for doctors to continue providing incurable patients with medicinal treatment, simply because such treatment can account for only one possible consequence – it would prolong patients’ suffering from acute physical pain, as the result of medicinal “love” and “care” being forcibly imposed upon them.

The reason why people like Dyck find it appropriate to indulge in abstract philosophizing about such vaguely defined categories as “free will” or “life’s worth” while striving to ridicule the very notion of PSA, is because they have never been exposed to the sight of terminally ill patients begging doctors for the mercy of quick and painless death. Apparently, for those who oppose PSA, protecting an abstract and utterly unrealistic concept of the sanctity of life from being affected by 21st century’s objective realities, means so much more than benefiting incurable patients in only one possible way they can be benefitted – relieving them of the burden of futile and painful existence.

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Therefore, even though opponents of PSA justify their stance on the issue by making continuous references to Hippocratic Oath, as such that in their view is irreconcilable with the idea that physicians can address dying patients’ last requests, the true motivations behind moralists’ intolerance towards PSA appear to be of purely irrational essence – by opposing PSA, believers in conventional code of medicinal ethics deal with their own anxieties, in regards to life and death.

In his article “Other People’s Lives: Reflections on Medicine, Ethics, and Euthanasia”, Richard Fenigsen states: “The doctors who resist euthanasia are in many instances people who entered medicine to conquer their own fear of disease and death” (Fenigsen, 2008, p.157). As practice shows, it is namely atheists and only very few true Christian fanatics, such as Southern Snake Handlers, who do not experience an utter fear of dying, while on their deathbeds.

However, “intellectually advanced” Christians, such as the ones who strive to provide their anti-PSA stance with logical sounding, are being utterly afraid of facing the God, out of fear that “creator” would send them straight to hell – after all, these “lambs of God” are perfectly aware that they can hardly be referred to as “saints”. In its turn, this causes them to subconsciously sublimate their fear of dying into pseudo-moralistic theories; they strive to impose upon the society, at the expense of refusing even to consider the possibility that terminally ill patients might be so much better off being treated in rational, rather than in a religiously-irrational manner.

Thus, it will be absolutely appropriate, on our part, to suggest that the essence of controversy, surrounding PSA, derives out of the fact that the contemporary code of medical ethics is simply being utterly outdated, which can only have one meaning – it is only the matter of time, before outdated social ethics, concerning the treatment of incurably ill patients, would be adjusted to correspond to the notion of sanity.

We need to understand that it was always the scientific and cultural progress and not the “ethics”, “morality”, or “spirituality”, which used to define socio-political realties in Western countries, even throughout the Dark Ages, and this will continue to be the case into foreseeable future. Therefore, those who oppose the practice of PSA being given an official status, actually strive for nothing less than reversing the course of civilizational progress backward, without even realizing it. Still, as we are all well aware of – within a context of science vs. “morality”, the latter does not stand even the slightest chance.

Conclusion

Nowadays, more and more healthcare professionals come to the realization that PSA must be fully legalized because incurable diseases do not deprive terminally ill patients of their humanity, which is something professional moralists have a hard time understanding. In her article “Voluntary Euthanasia, Physician-Assisted Suicide, and the Goals of Medicine”, Jukka Varelius outlines a legal rationale for legalization of PSA: “Since it is commonly accepted that medicine should be looking at things from the point of view of the patients’ interests, it is plausible that the view that a patient’s autonomy should be respected even if the courses of action she is considering taking were harmful” (Valerius, 2006, p.124).

We can only agree with the author – the revolutionary breakthroughs in the field of medicinal science, which had taken place during the course of the last thirty years; provide metaphysical preconditions for the code of contemporary medicinal ethics to be thoroughly revised.

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Therefore, Bible-thumping “experts on morality”, known for their aggressively negative attitude towards PSA, would be much better off doing what they do best – thumping the “good book”, instead of continuing to provide citizens with their “valuable” opinions on issues they could not possibly comprehend. Regardless of whether moralists like it or not, the practice of PSA will be legalized, throughout the nation, within the matter of next few years, and the fact that PSA is now being legally practiced by physicals in Oregon State substantiates the validity of such our suggestion better than anything else does.

References:

Dyck, A. (2002). Life’s Worth: The Case against Assisted Suicide. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

London, J. (2007) 1901. Sea Wolf. JackLondons. Web.

Fenigsen, R. (2008). Other People’s Lives: Reflections on Medicine, Ethics, and Euthanasia. Issues in Law & Medicine, 24 (2),149-68.

Varelius, J. (2006).Voluntary Euthanasia, Physician-Assisted Suicide, and the Goals of Medicine. Journal of Medicine & Philosophy, 31 (2), 121-137.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, November 10). Legalizing Physician-Assisted Suicide for Terminally Ill Patients. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/legalizing-physician-assisted-suicide-for-terminally-ill-patients/

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StudyCorgi. (2021, November 10). Legalizing Physician-Assisted Suicide for Terminally Ill Patients. https://studycorgi.com/legalizing-physician-assisted-suicide-for-terminally-ill-patients/

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"Legalizing Physician-Assisted Suicide for Terminally Ill Patients." StudyCorgi, 10 Nov. 2021, studycorgi.com/legalizing-physician-assisted-suicide-for-terminally-ill-patients/.

1. StudyCorgi. "Legalizing Physician-Assisted Suicide for Terminally Ill Patients." November 10, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/legalizing-physician-assisted-suicide-for-terminally-ill-patients/.


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StudyCorgi. "Legalizing Physician-Assisted Suicide for Terminally Ill Patients." November 10, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/legalizing-physician-assisted-suicide-for-terminally-ill-patients/.

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StudyCorgi. 2021. "Legalizing Physician-Assisted Suicide for Terminally Ill Patients." November 10, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/legalizing-physician-assisted-suicide-for-terminally-ill-patients/.

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StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Legalizing Physician-Assisted Suicide for Terminally Ill Patients'. 10 November.

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