Should assisted suicide be legalized in California?

Should assisted suicide be legalized in California?

Introduction

Physician assisted suicide (PAC) has become a highly contentious issue in the United States over the recent decades. Physician assisted suicide is whereby a terminally ill mentally competent patients takes prescribed lethal medication to end his/ her life. According to Aliferis (n.p.) the ‘End of Life Option Act’ assented to by Gov. Jerry Brown makes California the fifth state  in the country joining Oregon, Vermont, Montana and Washington that has legalized physician assisted suicide. This act gives terminally ill patients of legal age with less than six months diagnosed by two physicians, the attending and consulting to request for an ‘Aid-in-Dying Drug’ to help them end their lives (Aliferis, n.p.). The passing of this law was received by mixed emotions by both residents of California and health care professionals in the state. Notably, the law gives physicians the prerogative on to or, not participate in assisted suicide. Some physicians in the state have categorically refused to take part in assisted suicide citing moral and ethical reasons. On the other hand, physicians that choose to participate in assisted suicide in the state are required to follow the stipulated guidelines and will not be subject to legal charges. Advocates of physician assisted suicide argue that it allows terminally ill patients to experience death in a humane and dignified but on the other hand it is unethical, unnecessary and may create a platform for social injustices and illegal practice. As thus, assisted suicide should not be legalized in California.

Arguments for legalization of assisted suicide in California

Arguments for legalization of assisted suicide are centered on two key issues including: free will and quality of life. Supporters for legalization of physician assisted suicide argue that patients should be accorded the right to choose what to do with their own life as long as their decision does not infringe on the rights of others. As thus, by legalizing physician assisted suicide the state of California will be giving its residents legal framework which supports their ability to exercise free will over their life or, death (Sunstein 1123). In addition, terminally ill patients whose quality of life has been impaired by illness should have a right to choose death because it offers them relief from their suffering and pain. As thus, rather than living an impoverished life characterized by pain and suffering such patients have the right to choose death. In doing, they are able to escape the pain and suffering and die in a dignified and humane manner.

Argument against legalization of assisted suicide in California

There are an array of reasons why physician assisted suicide should not be legalized in California. Legalization of physician assisted suicide is unethical, unnecessary and may create a platform for social injustices and illegal practice.

Physicians by taking the Hippocratic Oath are forbidden from giving any lethal drugs or advising a patient to do so. According to Guglielmo (48), by engaging in assisted suicide doctors will be going against the values embodied in the Hippocratic Oath. The violation of the Hippocratic Oath by legalizing physician assisted suicide will also sever the doctor-patient relationship. Basically, the doctor-patient relationship is founded on trust; patients trusts their doctors because they believe that they will act with care and integrity in order to promote their wellbeing. However, by legalizing physician assisted suicide the trust between patient and doctor will be destroyed because assisting someone to commit suicide is not caring for their best interest. Basically, doctors are expected to promote the wellbeing and health of their patients; this cannot be achieved if they are aiding them to die.

Legalizing physician assisted suicide in California will create a platform for aiding premature deaths (Satz 1380). Basically, the physician assisted suicide will serve as an incentive to encourage terminally ill patients to end their lives. Comparatively, physician assisted suicide is a less expensive alternative than provision of care to a patient that will ultimately die within a period of six months or less. As thus, by encouraging terminally ill patients to commit physician assisted suicide the state is likely to make huge cost savings. In addition, due to the financial incentives associated with the physician assisted suicide stakeholders in the health care industry might encourage premature deaths. Physicians may also use coercion and undue pressure to influence terminally ill patients into committing physician assisted suicide. Terminally ill patients that do not want to place unwarranted financial pressure when given a choice not do so through physician assisted suicide may choose this route; when the decision to commit assisted physician assisted suicide is made under such circumstances it is out of the volition of the patient thus highly unethical.

Legalizing physician assisted suicide in California will also help to perpetuate social inequality in the state. In most instances, the vulnerable groups in the society such as the poor without adequate health insurance coverage will be more affected if physician assisted suicide in California is legalized (NEWSRX 1988). The affluent in the society have access to the best health care that money can buy and can be able to fund their care until they take their last breath. In addition, the affluent in the society are able to explore diverse treatment options thus are less likely to choose physician assisted suicide. On the other hand, the less fortunate are likely to choose physician assisted suicide because of the financial burden associated with other alternatives such as palliative care. Basically, rather than leaving behind huge financial burden on their loved ones vulnerable groups are more likely to choose physician assisted suicide thus will be more affected by the passing of the ‘End of Life Option Act’ in California.

There are provisions that allow terminally ill patients to decline health care. In doing so, they allow nature to take it cause and eventually they succumb to the illness. In this sense, it is necessary for the state of California to legalize physician assisted suicide. In addition, legal structure in the ‘End of Life Option Act’ in states such as Oregon does not provide control mechanisms and monitoring which in turn creates a platform for abuse and illegal practices. As thus, legalizing physician assisted suicide in California will create an environment where scrupulous physicians can engage in abuse and unethical practices undetected. In addition, no doctor can be able to predict with certainty when a patient will die. There are terminally ill patients that have recovered. As thus, by legalizing physician assisted suicide in California terminally ill patients that choose this alternative may be denied an opportunity to live a long and healthy life.

Discussion

Although, advocates of physician assisted suicide argue that it allows terminally ill patients to experience death in a humane and dignified there are an array of reasons against its legalization in California. In light of advancement in health care technology society have access to care that ensures that terminally ill patients are comfortable and free of pain during end of life. In the article, ‘Terminal Illness and Hastened Death Requests’ Rhea Farberman (427) states that…. “New technologies have given healthcare professionals more effective ways to treat and retard serious illness and therefore sustain life”. As thus, quality of life should not be used as the basis for decision to legalize physician assisted suicide in California terminally. In addition, even though patients have a freedom to control what to do with their lives doing so is an infringement of other human rights as right to quality health care. In addition, there are an array of reasons why physician assisted suicide in California should not be legalized. Firstly giving patients lethal drugs goes against the Hippocratic Oath and severs the doctor patient relationship. It will also will create a platform for aiding premature deaths, coercion and undue influence on terminally ill patients, abuse and illegal practices. The legalization of physician assisted suicide in California is also likely to affect vulnerable demographics such as the poor adversely. Physician assisted suicide is also unnecessary because a patient can take actions such as refusal of care that ensures that ensures that they do experience unwarranted pain. Physicians cannot be able to accurately predict death with certainty even among terminally ill patients thus facilitating assisted suicide is highly unethical.

Conclusion

Advocates of physician assisted suicide argue that it allows terminally ill patients to experience death in a humane and dignified but on the other hand it is unethical, unnecessary and may create a platform for social injustices and illegal practice. However, in light of the counter arguments and arguments against physician assisted suicide it should not be legalized in California.2016.