Sophie O. Mississippi

Physician Assisted Suicide

Dear Future President,

Although Euthanasia is not legal in the United States, the act of Physician Assisted Suicide (PAS) is. Assisted suicide is when an official physician provides an individual with the information and source to take his or her own life with the consent of the patient. Euthanasia however can be the choice of the physician if they believe it is the best choice, and it can be done in inhumane ways such as cutting off food or fluid supplies. The word Euthanasia itself translates to “happy or good death” which almost contradicts itself because of the fact most people do not associate death with being something that is happy or positive.

So far, only five states have made Physician Assisted Suicide legal, and those states are Oregon, Washington, Vermont, Montana and California. The act of assisted suicide by a doctor counters itself because we associate doctors with saving lives not ending them. It has been argued that it is a more peaceful way for people with terminal illnesses to die instead of continuing on months of pain and agony. However there is also the standing fact that some people who are in this state are engrossed only with the negative reactions to their illness and want an easy way out. It is almost as if they are too depressed to make a reasonable decision.

In order to be eligible for Physician Assisted Suicide, you must be 18, have had this terminal illness for over six months, and be a resident of the state in which it is legal. If the patient is eligible they must formally ask the doctor if he or she will assist them in the suicide. Then at least fifteen days later the patient must put in another oral request. Then the doctor will require him or her to fill out a written request signed by two witnesses. The doctor will then provide the patient with lethal drugs. Five minutes after the drugs are injected, the patient slips into a coma and death usually will occur within 30 minutes and 48 hours.

In my opinion, it is ironic that there are suicide hotlines and seminars that teach children and young adults how wrong suicide is and that there are better options, yet doctors around the world and now in parts of our nation are acting as if it is a morally acceptable thing to do under certain circumstances. This assisted suicide may be the choice of the patient but it does not only affect the patient. Many families have had to watch their loved ones die from medical accidents, but having to watch their family member think that death is the best option is devastating.

“First, do no harm.” This is the oath taken by physicians before they earn their license and set out into the world to heal and help the sick. So, one must consider the irony that the same physician who takes this oath is also the one who helps a patient end their life. Even if the intentions are “merciful,” the end result is still the same: a heart that is no longer beating.