Developed by the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) in 2010, the documentary film “Medical tourist” provides a story on the last days of Craig Ewert, a native of Chicago who goes on a tour to Switzerland for physician-assisted suicide. The story is quite fascinating but sad. First, the article attempts to show that patients who go for physician-assisted suicide are not desperate to die; neither are they happy with the idea. However, they feel tired of coping with the pains of a terminal disease.
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As portrayed by the 59-year-old Ewert, physician-assisted suicide comes as the only remedy remaining for the patients of terminal illnesses. In this case, the audience is taken through the story leading to Ewert’s decision to take the PAS. The audience is introduced to Ewert’s life, first as a professor of technology before he is diagnosed with ALS.
As the family copes with the idea of a dying person, they seem to realize that his decisions are the best thing for his condition. His wife finally accepts, though sadly, to the idea of “suicide touring” to Switzerland. As the documentary interviews Ewert and his wife, it becomes evident that desperate moments in his life have called for desperate actions.
After watching the film, the viewer is thrilled by the story. It becomes evident that terminal illnesses are affecting thousands of people in the US today. Though not ethically acceptable, the idea of inflicted death becomes the only remaining option for the individuals.
As portrayed by Ewert in this film, one realizes that patient decision to undergo PAS arrive after the realization that one has two options- to live with the disease and experience the heavy pains and finally die or seek for immediate death through PAS. In essence, the two options result in death. Indeed, death is inevitable in such conditions as PAS, cancer, and other terminal illnesses.
Nevertheless, from a critical point of view, death through PAS is not just death, but also a form of medical intervention to find the most appropriate solution. If one undergoes PAS, he or she is saved from the painful experiences before natural death occurs.
On the other hand, death through PAS denies one a chance to live with the family members and give each enough time to accept that the patient must die. On the other hand, waiting for natural death allows individuals to come to terms with reality and accept that death is inevitable. However, it is worth noting that death through PAS ensures that family members evade the pains of seeing the individual suffer for a long time before natural death takes place.
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On viewing the film, the viewer is left to debate on the two options. From one perspective, one cannot avoid sympathizing with Mary Ewert, the suicide tourist’s wife. It is sad to see her accompany her husband on his final journey. When perceiving things from her point of view, the viewer feels obliged to request the couple change the decision. Although she has accepted the verdict, she seems to have some fear that she will be left in a sad situation once Ewert is gone.
On the other hand, perceiving things from the patient’s point of view make the audience realize that PAS is the best option for him. His condition seems never to improve. Since death is the final stage, it is good for him to make it as quick as possible and in a humane manner.