Legalizing doctor prescribed death is much like putting fire into a paper bag: it cannot be controlled. Here are some reasons to oppose it:
The "Choice" of Physician-Assisted Suicide Is an Illusion.
Laws allowing it are ripe for abuse. For instance, once the lethal prescription is handed to the patient, there is no accountability of what takes place next. A third party (including someone who stands to benefit financially from the patient's death) could administer the drug to the patient without patient consent, even if the patient changed her mind and struggled against the overdose. Laws do not require consent at the time of death, only consent to obtain the lethal prescription - a distinction which can give someone other the patient the power to decide when death occurs. In reality, there is no protected "choice" as proponents claim.
For example, Sen. Ted Kennedy's widow, Victoria, opposed Massachusetts' 2012 ballot measure to legalize assisted suicide, saying it would turn her husband's "vision for health care for all on its head by asking us to endorse patient suicide – not patient care- as our public policy for dealing with pain and the financial burdens of care at the end of life. We're better than that."
Physician-Assisted Suicide Is Not A Private, Personal Act.
Doctor prescribed death involves more than the patient. It necessitates a host of participants, including a doctor, a pharmacist and the state. It's a public act that requires medicine, law and society approve a lethal prescription that crosses the line between caring and killing.
Acceptance of Physician-Assisted Suicide Sends the Message that Some lLives Are Not Worth Living.
Social acceptance of physician-assisted suicide tells elderly, disabled and dependent citizens that their lives are not valuable. Doctors who list death by assisted suicide among the medical options for a terminally or chronically ill patient communicate hopelessness, not compassion.
Physician Assisted Suicide Creates Legal Opportunity for Hidden Elder Abuse.
Elder financial abuse is a documented fact, costing victims an estimated $2.6 billion each year and can serve as a catalyst for other types of elder abuse. Society-approved death puts elders at risk for abuse through include being coerced, pressured or even forced into suicide.
Doctor Prescribed Death Compounds the Discrimination Experienced by People with Disabilities.
Disability rights groups are some of the strongest voices against physician assisted suicide based on the experience of their community. According to disability rights leader, John Kelly, "As people with disabilities, we are already on the front line of a broken, profit-driven health care system which will naturally see a below $100 prescription as a cheaper alternative to experimental [and life extending] drugs."
What's to prevent a prescription from becoming the treatment of choice to offer terminally or chronically ill patients? Doctor prescribed death will always be the cheaper option.
The Practice of Physician-Assisted Suicide Creates A Duty to Die.
Suicide is not medical care.
Escalating health-care costs, coupled with a growing elderly population, set the stage for an American culture eager to embrace alternatives to expensive, long-term medical care. The so-called "right to die" may soon become the "duty to die" as our senior, disabled and depressed family members are pressured or coerced into ending their lives. At a time when health insurance coverage is in flux for millions of Americans (due to ObamaCare), discussions of legalizing doctor prescribed death seems especially dangerous. In a dollar-driven environment, it's too tempting for death to become a reasonable substitute to treatment and care when medical coverage is uncertain and medical costs continue to rise.
In Oregon, at least two patients receiving medical care under the state-funded Oregon Health Plan report being denied chemotherapy but offered assisted suicide.
Story of Barbara Wagner http://www.katu.com/news/26119539.html
Story of Randy Stroup http://www.foxnews.com/story/2008/07/28/oregon-offers-terminal-patients-doctor-assisted-suicide-instead-medical-care/
There Are Better Medical Alternatives.
Palliative Care specialist, Dr. Dan Maison, says, "One phrase that gets under my skin and breaks my heart is when someone says, 'Well, they told me there is nothing more they could do.' There's always more we can do." Regarding Brittany Maynard, ""Actually, we take care of folks like her all the time, and we're able to keep almost all of them very comfortable," he said.
The Practice of Physician-Assisted Suicide Threatens to Destroy the Delicate Trust Relationship Between Doctor and Patient.
Every day patients demonstrate their faith in the medical profession by taking medications and agreeing to treatment on the advice of their physicians. Patients trust that the physicians' actions are in their best interest with the goal of protecting life. Physician-assisted suicide endangers this trust relationship by making physicians actors in a patient's death.
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Argument Against Euthanasia
A considerable size of society is in favor of Euthanasia mostly
because they feel that as a democratic country, we as free individuals,
have the right to decide for ourselves whether or not it is our right to
determine when to terminate someone's life. The stronger and more widely
held opinion is against Euthanasia primarily because society feels that it
is god's task to determine when one of his creations time has come, and we
as human beings are in no position to behave as god and end someone's life.
When humans take it upon themselves to shorten their lives or to have
others to do it for them by withdrawing life-sustaining apparatus, they
play god. They usurp the divine function, and interfere with the divine
Euthanasia is the practice of painlessly putting to death persons
who have incurable, painful, or distressing diseases or handicaps. It come
from the Greek words for 'good' and 'death', and is commonly called mercy
killing. Voluntary euthanasia may occur when incurably ill persons ask
their physician, friend or relative, to put them to death. The patients or
their relatives may ask a doctor to withhold treatment and let them die.
Many critics of the medical profession contend that too often doctors play
god on operating tables and in recovery rooms. They argue that no doctor
should be allowed to decide who lives and who dies.
The issue of euthanasia is having a tremendous impact on medicine
in the United States today. It was only in the nineteenth century that the
word came to be used in the sense of speeding up the process of dying and
the destruction of so-called useless lives. Today it is defined as the
deliberate ending of life of a person suffering from an incurable disease.
A distinction is made between positive, or active, and negative, or
passive, euthanasia. Positive euthanasia is the deliberate ending of life;
an action taken to cause death in a person. Negative euthanasia is defined
as the withholding of life preserving procedures and treatments that would
prolong the life of one who is incurably and terminally ill and couldn't
survive without them. The word euthanasia becomes a respectable part of
our vocabulary in a subtle way, via the phrase ' death with dignity'.
Tolerance of euthanasia is not limited to our own country. A court
case in South Africa, s. v. Hatmann (1975), illustrates this quite well. A
medical practitioner, seeing his eighty-seven year old father suffering
from terminal cancer of the prostate, injected an overdose of Morphine and
Thiopental, causing his father's death within seconds. The court charged
the practitioner as guilty of murder because 'the law is clear that it
nonetheless constitutes the crime of murder, even if all that an accused
had done is to hasten the death of a human being who was due to die in any
event'. In spite of this charge, the court simply imposed a nominal
sentence; that is, imprisonment until the rising of the court. (Friedman
Once any group of human beings is considered unworthy of living,
what is to stop our society from extending this cruelty to other groups? If
the mongoloid is to be deprived of his right to life, what of the blind
and deaf? and What about of the cripple, the retarded, and the senile?
Courts and moral philosophers alike have long accepted the
proposition that people have a right to refuse medical treatment they find
painful or difficult to bear, even if that refusal means certain death.
But an appellate court in California has gone one controversial step
further. (Walter 176)
It ruled that Elizabeth Bouvia, a cerebral palsy victim, had an
absolute right to refuse a life-sustaining feeding tube as part of her
privacy rights under the US and California constitutions. This was the
nation's most sweeping decision in perhaps the most controversial realm of
the rights explosion: the right to die...
As individuals and as a society, we have the positive obligation
to protect life. The second precept is that we have the negative
obligation not to destroy or injure human life directly, especially the
life of the innocent and invulnerable. It has been reasoned that the
protection of innocent life- and therefore, opposition to abortion, murder,
suicide, and euthanasia- pertains to the common good of society.
Among the potential effects of a legalised practice of euthanasia
are the following:
"Reduced pressure to improve curative or symptomatic treatment".
If euthanasia had been legal 40 years ago, it is quite possible that there
would be no hospice movement today. The improvement in terminal care is a
direct result of attempts made to minimize suffering. If that suffering
had been extinguished by extinguishing the patients who bore it, then we
may never have known the advances in the control of pain, nausea,
breathlessness, and other terminal symptoms that the last twenty years
have seen. Some diseases that were terminal a few decades ago are now
routinely cured by newly developed treatments. Earlier acceptance of
euthanasia might well have undercut the urgency of the research efforts
which led to the discovery of those treatments. If we accept euthanasia
now, we may well delay by decades the discovery of effective treatments
for those diseases that are now terminal. (Brock 76)
"Abandonment of Hope". Every doctor can tell stories of patients
expected to die within days who surprise everyone with their extraordinary
recoveries. Every doctor has experienced the wonderful embarrassment of
being proven wrong in their pessimistic prognosis. To make euthanasia a
legitimate option as soon as the prognosis is pessimistic enough is to
reduce the probability of such extraordinary recoveries from low to zero.
"Increased fear of hospitals and doctors". Despite all the efforts
of health education, it seems there will always be a transference of the
patient's fear of illness from the illness to the doctors and hospitals
who treat it. This fear is still very real and leads to large numbers of
late presentations of illnesses that might have been cured if only the
patients had sought help earlier. To institutionalize euthanasia, however
carefully, would undoubtedly magnify all the latent fear of doctors and
hospitals harbored by the public. The inevitable result would be a rise in
late presentations and, therefore, preventable deaths.
"Difficulties of oversight and regulation". Both the Dutch and the
California proposals list sets of precautions designed to prevent abuses.
They acknowledge that such are a possibility. The history of legal
"loopholes" is not a cheering one. Abuses might arise when the patient is
wealthy and an inheritance is at stake, when the doctor has made mistakes
in diagnosis and treatment and hopes to avoid detection, when insurance
coverage for treatment costs is about to expire, and in a host of other
circumstances. (Maguire 321)
"Pressure on the Patient". Both sets of proposals seek to limit
the influence of the patient's family on the decision, again acknowledging
the risks posed by such influences. Families have all kinds of subtle ways,
conscious and unconscious, of putting pressure on a patient to request
euthanasia and relive them of the financial and social burden of care.
Many patients already feel guilty for imposing burdens on those on those
who care for them, even when the families are happy to bear the burden. To
provide an avenue for the discharge of that guilt in a request for
euthanasia is to risk putting to death a great many patients who do not
wish to die.
"Conflict with aims of medicine". The pro-euthanasia movement
cheerfully hands the dirty work of the actual killing to the doctors who
by and large , neither seek nor welcome the responsibility. There is
little examination of the psychological stresses imposed on those whose
training and professional outlook are geared to the saving of lives by
asking them to start taking lives on a regular basis. Euthanasia advocates
seem very confident that doctors can be relied on to make the enormous
efforts sometimes necessary to save some lives, while at the same time
assenting to requests to take other lives. Such confidence reflects,
perhaps, a high opinion of doctor's psychic robustness, but it is a
confidence seriously undermined by the shocking rates of depression,
suicide, alcoholism, drug addiction, and marital discord consistently
recorded among this group.
"Dangers of Societal Acceptance". It must never be forgotten that
doctors, nurses, and hospital administrators have personal lives, homes
and families, or that they are something more than just doctors, nurses,
or hospital administrators. They are citizens and a significant part of
the society around them. We should be very worried about what the
institutionalization of euthanasia will do to society, in general , how
will we regard murderers? (Brody 89)
"The Slippery Slope". How long after acceptance of voluntary
euthanasia will we hear the calls for non-voluntary euthanasia? There are
thousands of comatose or demented patients sustained by little more than
good nursing care. They are an enormous financial and social burden. How
long will the advocates of euthanasia be arguing that we should "assist
them in dying".
"Costs and Benefits". Perhaps the most disturbing risk of all is
posed by the growing concern over medical costs. Euthanasia is, after all,
a very cheap service. The cost of a dose of barbiturates and curare and
the few hours in a hospital bed that it takes them to act is minute
compared to the massive bills incurred by many patients in the last weeks
and months of their lives. Already in Britain, There is a serious under-
provision of expensive therapies like renal dialysis and intensive care,
with the result that many otherwise preventable deaths occur. Legalizing
euthanasia would save substantial financial resources which could be
diverted to more "useful" treatments. These economic concerns already
exert pressure to accept euthanasia, and, if accepted, they will
inevitability tend to enlarge the category of patients for whom euthanasia
"Do not tolerate killing". Now is the time for the medical
profession to rally in defense of its fundamental moral principles, to
repudiate any and all acts of direct and intentional killing by physicians
and their agents. We call on the profession and its leadership to obtain
the best advice, regarding both theory and practice, about how to defend
the profession's moral center and to resist growing pressures both from
without and from within. We call on fellow physicians to say that we will
not deliberately kill. We must say also to each of our fellow physicians
that we will not tolerate killing of patients and that we shall take
disciplinary action against doctors who kill. (Chapman 209)
On the other hand some people strongly feel that euthanasia is not
bad and should not be looked down upon.
Are there no conditions when life is meaningless and should be
quietly ended? If a person is subject to pain that won't stop as a result
of a disease that can't be cured, must he or she suffer that pain as long
as possible when there are gentle ways of putting an end to life? If a
person suffers from a disease that deprives him or her of all memory and
makes him or her a helpless lump of flesh that may live on for years.
If euthanasia were legalized,it should be admitted that there
might be some abuses of virtually every social practice. There is no
absolute guarantee against that. But we do not normally think that a
social practice should be precluded simply because it might sometimes be
abused. The crucial issue is whether the evil of the abuses would be so
great as to outweigh the benefit of the practice. In the case of
euthanasia, the question is whether the abuses, or the consequences
generally, would be so numerous as to outweigh the advantages of
legalization. The choice is not between a present policy that is benign
and an alternative that is potentially dangerous. The present policy had
it's evils, too.
We spend more than a billion dollars a day for health car while
our teachers are underpaid, and our industrial plants are rusty. This
should not continue. There is something fundamentally insustainable about
a society that moves its basic value-producing industries overseas yet
continues to manufacture artificial hearts at home. We have money to give
smokers heart transplants but no money to retool out steel mills. We train
more doctors and lawyers than we need but fewer teachers. On any given day,
30 to 40 percent of the hospital beds in America are empty, but our
classrooms are overcrowded and our transportation systems are
deteriorating. We are great at treating sick people, but we are not that
great at treating a sick economy. And we are not succeeding in
international trade. When you really look around and try to find
industries the United States is succeeding in, you discover that they are
very few and far between.(Lamm 133)
There is no way we are going to come to grips with this problem
until we also look at some of these areas that aren't going to go away .
One of the toughest of these is what Victor Fuchs called "flat-of-the-
curve medicine"- those medical procedures which are the highest in cost
but achieve little or no improvement in health status. He says that they
must be reduced or eliminated. We must demand that professional societies
and licensing authorities establish some norms and standards for
diagnostic and therapeutic practice that encompass both costs and medicine.
Wer'e going to have to come up with some sort of concept of cost-effective
Individuals have the right to decide about their own lives and
deaths. What more basic right is there than to decide if you're going to
live? There is none. A person under a death sentence who's being kept
alive, through so called heroic measures certainly has a fundamental right
to say, "Enough's enough. The treatment's worse than the disease. Leave me
alone. Let me die!". Ironically, those who deny the terminally ill this
right do so out of a sense of high morality. Don't they see that, in
denying the gravely ill and suffering the right to release themselves from
pain, they commit the greatest crime?
The period of suffering can be shortened. If you have ever been in
a terminal cancer ward, It's grim but enlightening. Anyone who's been there
can know how much people can suffer before they die. And not just
physically. The emotional, even spiritual, agony is often worse. Today our
medical hardware is so sophisticated that the period of suffering can be
extended beyond the limit of human endurance. What's the point of allowing
someone a few more months or days or hours of so-called life when death is
inevitable? There's no point. In fact, it's downright inhumane. When
someone under such conditions asks to be allowed to die, it's far more
humane to honor that request than to deny it.(Barry 405)
People have a right to die with dignity. Nobody wants to end up
plugged into machines and wired to tubes.
Who wants to spend their last days lying in a hospital bed wasting
away to something that's hardly recognizable as a human being, let alone
his or her former self? Nobody. The very thought insults the whole concept
of what it means to be human. People are entitled to dignity, in life and
in death. Just as we respect people's right to live with dignity, so we
must respect their right to die with dignity. In the case of the
terminally ill, that means people have the right to refuse life-sustaining
treatment when it's apparent to them that all the treatment is doing is
destroying their dignity, and reducing them to some subhuman level of
The reasons just stated in favor of euthanasia are often over
looked due to the following arguments that are against euthanasia.
The way you talk you'd think people have absolute right over their
bodies and lives. But that is obviously just not true. No individual has
absolute freedom. Even the patient's Bill of Rights, which was drawn up by
the American Hospital Association, recognizes this. Although it
acknowledges that patients have the right to refuse treatment, the
document also realizes that they have this right and freedom only to the
extent permitted by law. Maybe people should be allowed to die if they
want to. But if so, it's not because they have an absolute right to
dispose of themselves if they want to.(Brock 73)
Only a fool would minimize the agony that many terminally ill
patient endure. And there's no question that by letting them die on request
we shorten the period of suffering. But we also shorten their lives. Can
you seriously argue that the saving of pain is greater good than the
saving of life? Or that presence of pain is worse than the loss of life?
Of course, nobody likes to see a creature suffer, especially when the
creature has requested a halt to the suffering. But we have to keep our
Pro euthanasianists make it sound as though the superhuman efforts
made to keep people alive are not worthy of human beings. What could be
more respectful of human life, than to maintain life against all odds, and
against all hope?
All of life is a struggle and a gamble. At the gaming table of
life, nobody ever knows what the outcome will be. " Indeed, humans are
noblest when they persist in the face of the inevitable. Look at our
literature. Reflect on our heroes. They are not those who have capitulated
but those who have endured. No, there's nothing undignified against being
hollowed out by a catastrophic disease, about writhing in pain, about
wishing it would end. The indignity lies in capitulation".(Buchanan 208)
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