Assisted Suicide

Assisted suicide (or Euthanasia) is a topic undergoing serious debate. There
exist two obvious and definite opinions regarding this controversy. The
anti-euthanasia faction consist of:  Conservative religious groups. They
are often the same organizations that oppose access to abortion. 

Medical associations whose members are dedicated to saving and extending life,
and feel uncomfortable helping people end their lives.  Groups concerned
with disabilities, which fear that euthanasia is the first step towards a
society that will kill disabled people against their will. These groups bring
both a religious and professional ethics perspective to the opinion that
physician assisted suicide should be prohibited by law. The other side of the
debate over euthanasia is those individuals who follow the convictions of Dr.

Jack Kevorkian and the Right to Die organization. The book Prescription:

Medicine (1993) is an interesting, yet controversial book about physician
assisted suicide. Authored by the only physician known to provide assisted
suicide to terminally ill patients, Dr. Jack Kevorkian, the book brings up some
topics of heated debate. Kevorkian discusses his Suicide Machine, reasons for
assisted suicide, and some of the cases he has supervised. The Proponents for

Euthanasia In his book, Dr. Kevorkian explains the ancient roots of euthanasia
and his invention of the Suicide Machine. He gives examples of how doctors in
the time of the Pythagorean readily gave poison to any patient who requested it.

Kevorkian tries to justify assisted suicide by carefully stating the words of
the Hippocratic Oath. He also thoughtfully interprets both the laws and the oath
in order to make it look like they agree with his ideas. One justification for
assisted suicide that Kevorkian uses is that of a proclamation by a medical
committee that it is ethical for physicians to help terminally ill patients
commit suicide. Only, he doesnít make it very obvious that the committee is
part of a special interest group known as the Society for the Right to Die. This
committee was obviously biased because of its affiliation with the organization.

There could be some complicated problems if physicians were allowed to perform
euthanasia at anytime on anybody who wanted it. The biggest problem might be if
someone is mentally and physically incapacitated to the point where they canít
make decisions on their own, and they want to die, who is really making the
decision? Are they deciding or is it their greedy relatives that want the
inheritance? Absolutely no one has the right to choose who gets to live or who
gets to die. Advocates of voluntary euthanasia contend that if a person is meets
the following criteria then there should be legal and medical provision to
enable her to be allowed to die or assisted to die. The individual must be: 1.)
suffering from a terminal illness 2.) unlikely to benefit from the discovery of
a cure for that illness during what remains of their life expectancy 3.) as a
direct result of the illness, either suffering intolerable pain, or only has
available a life that is unacceptably burdensome (because the illness has to be
treated in ways which lead to her being unacceptably dependent on others or on
technological means of life support) 4.) have an enduring, voluntary and
rational wish to die (or has, prior to losing the competence to do so, expressed
a wish to die in the event that conditions #1 - #3 are satisfied); and 5.)
unable, without assistance, to commit suicide The major argument is that people
possess the right to end their own lives if they wish to. There is no laws or
regulations outlawing it and the action harms no one other then the individual
who commits suicide. Advocates of euthanasia believe that death is preferable
for people whose quality of life has shrunk to zero, find the indignities of
being cared for as an infant unbearable, or simply want to die with dignity
before they become very sick. This group would include, but is not limited to
individuals afflicted by ALS, Huntington\'s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, AIDS,

Alzheimer\'s, etc. The Opponents of Euthanasia In a recent article from the

Connecticut Post (1998) a physician described the phrase "doctor assisted
suicide" as an oxymoron. The author believes that if someone assists you with
taking your life you have not really committed suicide. Whether it is a doctor
or your best friend helping you take your life, it is nothing less then murder.

As mentioned earlier in this document the three primary constituents of the
anti-euthanasia debate are religious institutions, medical professionals, and
persons with disabilities. There are two primary arguments offered by

Christians, and those of