Sunday, October 9, 2016

Physician Assisted Suicide

Should I be able to commit suicide legally? The question seems absurd. What if I am caught in the act and my attempt is aborted? What are they going to do? Execute me? Well, mission accomplished, LOL.

No, but seriously, the real crux of this issue is whether a physician should be legally allowed to help any of us who wish to painlessly “shuffle off this mortal coil”. While recognizing that there are potential dangers associated with physician assisted suicide, I think the answer should be a resounding YES!

The dicey issues and pitfalls are obvious: members of the family that are heir to the dying person’s wealth might wish, if they are bad, greedy people, to hasten the sick person’s death, even in cases where recovery might in fact be possible. So safeguards need to be put in place to prevent this. What exactly are these safeguards? I do not know, I am not a lawyer, but I am confident that such safeguards can be put in place.

Surely such safeguards would involve getting a panel of, say, three or more independent physicians to attest that there is no chance of recovery, and that the dying person has no chance for any quality of life unless a lethal medical method is employed to bring about termination of life. Perhaps as part of a person’s “living will” he/she would list the relatives or loved ones he/she trusts to be involved in the life-ending decisions.

What confuses the issue is the religious objection to suicide. Well, that is fine for religious people to choose to suffer because they believe that it is part of God’s plan for them to do so, but it is not defensible for them to impose that upon those of us who are non religious, or secular. In other words this is a “separation of church and state” issue.

It is fine with me if ones religion forbids him/her to seek a painless exit from the living, but it is not OK if you force others to suffer because you feel it is God’s plan. 

Would I choose to seek a physician to end my life via, for example. some kind of painless injection? I actually do not know. I may come down on the side of the religious objectors to such a procedure, in my case. Maybe I would feel, when actually in that position, that there is a meaning in my pain and suffering. But that is not for the government to decide, and I very much resent the attempts of Christians or other religious groups to deny me the right to seek such a “final solution”.

1 comment:

Rufus Otis said...

I agree -- without reservation -- that an individual should be able to exit with dignity, and as expediently and painlessly as possible. I can't really find a justification for local, state, or national government to intervene in this highly personal matter.

On the other hand, I can see many ethical questions. As John Donne told us long ago, no man is an island and one life affects many others. I'm sure others close to my age have had personal experience with suicide. Most commonly, the feeling evoked is a mix of guilt (if I'd known I might have helped), anger (suicide can be viewed as a selfish act), and disgust (it's never pretty, and the deceased NEVER has to participate in the cleanup.) However, in the event of degenerative disease, severely painful affliction, clearly hopeless situations, it seems to me to be terribly cruel to deny an individual an exit strategy.

The caution is that no governing body should ever be allowed to make a decision to end a persons life for similar reasons.