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Is Assisted Suicide Okay?

By Jill Borowski
Staff Writer

The issue of assisted suicide has become one of the “it” topics in the United States. Assisted suicide is defined as “the suicide of a patient suffering from an incurable disease, affected by the taking of lethal drugs provided by a doctor for this purpose,” according to the Oxford Dictionaries. The raising question is: How ethical is this?

There are two very strong opposing opinions about whether or not it is right for someone to have the ability to ending someone else’s life.

In the United States, assisted suicide is a crime in 34 states Only two states, Oregon and Washington, however, permit physician assisted suicide.

The question of the morality of assisted suicide is whether or not the act of suicide can, in fact, be considered a “treatment” for a disease. Autonomy is the real issue in the assisted suicide debate—the right to refuse or accept medical treatment. According to opposing articles on, there are two types of this autonomy—negative and positive. Negative autonomy gives the patient the right to refuse treatment advised by his/her doctor. This practice is well known and commonly accepted throughout the United States. Positive autonomy is the ability to request and attain a specific medical treatment, but this has limits. A patient cannot request a heart transplant for a broken ankle, for example. The treatment requested by a specific patient has to match the condition the patient is suffering from, for example chemotherapy for cancer patients.

So, is a lethal injection a “medical treatment” for the terminally ill? I say no. Killing is killing for whatever reason. In my opinion, life is precious and you should try to preserve life at all costs—so I am not a supporter of assisted suicide. I can see, however, how people would be in favor of it. Take a sick patient, for example, a cancer patient. Say a cancer patient is terminally ill and in an intense amount of pain; treatments are not working and the pain is stronger than the medications can take care of. This patient would much rather be dead than be in pain any longer.
I could understand why a person would want the option of having someone else end their life so they wouldn’t have to.

Assisted suicide is advertised and promoted in some European countries, such as its most popular proponent, Switzerland. People travel from across the world just to use the assisted suicide services in these countries because the “treatment” is not readily available and is also criminal in most of the United States. Assisted suicide doesn’t conform to the norms of medical treatment—more traditional ones like chemotherapy or organ transplants. People still find the idea of “pulling the plug” to be morbid. Whether assisted suicide is performed by lethal injection or a killer cocktail (a poisonous one that stops the patient’s heart), it still yields the same effect. Assisted suicide, in my opinion, is not moral and should not be done. Of course, there always will be a few extreme circumstances in which someone is better off passing away than being in pain, but that is a matter of opinion.

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