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Jessika Meza
Professor Ogbara
English 1A
3 December 2015
A Death Wish: A Moral or Immoral Choice
The controversial argument of assisted suicide and euthanasia can be a clash between the
protection of human life and the right to die. Doctors and their medical team have come forward
to address the issue of whether assisted suicide is viewed as morally wrong or right. Medical
professionals make their point based on their encounters working with ill patients; they will
explain their personal view on the topic. Opponents for doctor assisted suicide make it clear it is
morally wrong to help one commit suicide and intentional cause harm to people who are
helpless. Others argument it is immoral to ignore patient and should respect their rights. To make
it clear a physician assisted suicide (PAS), is whereby a doctor or physician helps a person
commit suicide by providing patient lethal drugs under the patients request and permission. In
this case, the patient has made a decision to end their life due to their terminal disease. For the
terminally ill putting an end to their lives would permanently end all their constant pain and
suffering, but goes against medical professions pledge to the Hippocratic Oath and the
conflicting views of societys moral beliefs on assisted suicide.
Many severely compromised individuals who have drowned themselves in depression,
loneness, and have lost all faith in life have probably brought to their mind the option to have a
suicide. To an individual whom may have encountered thoughts of suicide may not always
realize that suicide is not always the right option. Although they have a mind of their own
medical professionals may have handled thousands of cases and can recommend alternative
options. Dr. Alan B. Astrow, a publisher in the fields of history of medicine and medical ethics, is

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chief of the section of medical oncology. As a doctor, Astrow has developed an understanding for
medicine and the controversial issue of moral beliefs and ethics. In the Book Facing Death by
Howard M. Spiro, Dr. Astrow pronounced that, Legalization of assisted suicide and euthanasia
would do little, in my view, to enhance the comfort of these patients and would threaten
substantial public harm and damage to the morale of the profession (p 44). As a practiced
Oncologist, Dr. Astrow explains that the law to pass assisted suicide and euthanasia wouldnt
benefit patients who are obviously in need of comfort. To try an ease the pain and discomfort can
be the only possible way to assure no harm or violate rights to patients. In my view patients with
chronically ill diseases can only hope that someone can be a comforting and understanding of
their emotional state of mind as well as their physical state. I consider his argument to be valid to
a certain point where as todays advancement of technology and medicine, people tend to drift
away from individuals emotions and focus on how many drugs can help heal them or convince
individuals to have a suicide. A number of studies have proven that in fact humans become
natural caretakers to others who are in need of help, due to their instinct to be compassionate to
those with inabilities. In the essay Toward a Universal Ethics by Michael Gazzaniga, he
pronounced that, A long and rich history of psychological research has outlined what is called
the empathy altruism hypothesis, which seeks to explain the pro-social behavior we engage in
when we watch another human being in distress (A World of Ideas 427). Gazzaniga refers to the
empathy altruism hypothesis to point out how research has given an idea that society connects
with one another through others misfortunes. In research they have found that we
automatically and unconsciously are drawn to people who are helpless or in need. From
personal experience we as humans are motivated to be those people who can help others. I
suppose that our brains are naturally stimulated to become supporters, comforters, and healers to

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others whom we believe would benefit from our compassionate ways. As for Dr. Astrow and
several other medical members they have made a living off of taking care of ill people who are
bedridden. Their goal is to provide care for humans who want and need help to improve their
health. Therefore, I defend Astrows line of reasoning to oppose to the legalization of assisted
suicide or euthanasia, due to the fact that it goes against our personal view and societys view on
how to take care for others during a time of tragedy.
On the other hand, proponents argue that physicians and nurses need to respect the right
of a patient and acknowledge patients illness, mental state of mind, and rights during a time of
their sufferings. In a Scholarly article Death with Dignity by Susan M. Behuniak she asserts
that, Acknowledging the suffering involved in a prolonged death, the Society embraced the
position that it was ethically sound to end this suffering by killing the patient, and that hastening
death was a personal entitlement supported by a legally cognizable right to die (Behuniak 3).
Behuniak makes a point to recognize those patients who are suffering dramatically. Take into
consideration a patients physical pain and emotional state of mind. They are in a constant battle
to either do what is best for them or what is best for society, morally and ethically correct. Refer
to graph on pages 11-12 to see a poll. By the ill patient to them be forced to prolong their death is
inconsiderate and selfish. Part of society claims it is ethically right for physicians to help end all
patients misery by simply killing them off. However, for individuals to consider the idea of a
suicide death should automatically hint to others that they require emotional support. Medical
professionals and supporters of anti-assisted suicide have come to terms that the terminally ill
need emotional support to numb their mental discomfort or to ensure them of worth to being
alive. Showing individuals compassion and understanding of their environment can have a huge
influence in their mental state of mind. In the Book Facing Death, Dr. Astrow asserts that, The

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Failure to acknowledge that the patient is dying and that comfort is the most appropriate goal
(45). It is the duty and assigned task of Dr. Astrow that medical staff need to be understanding
and find a way to recognized their situation and do what any good person would do for someone
who is dealing with hardship. One needs to distinguish what is morally right when another is in
desperate need, emotionally and physically. To show concern and for patient seems to be the only
correct action of compassion. It seems to me that society is blindsided of the traditional ways to
ease an individuals emotional state. Id think twice before of immediately jumping to
conclusions and killing them without compassion. To think physicians will immediately approve
a hasten death would be unprofessional and immoral. Doctor Astrow makes clear of his
argument that being attentive and comforting to the ill is the goal. In my opinion, to ignore the
fact that they are dying and to ignore the signs that they can use a whole lot of humanity is
wrong. Is it possible that society has lost all empathy for those who are suffering? Many have put
all their focus on how they can kill others quickly and without a warming heart.
The chronically ill should give doctors more respect to the limitations they have to
correctly heal others, at the same time understand their recommendations for the best results.
Many may feel a medical team and their doctors are seen to be unprofessional when killing, even
for the best reasons. In the same book Facing Death, Dr. Astrow declares that, Most
physicians, aware of the uncertainties of medical decision-making, the strain of caring for the
chronically ill, and the hostile feeling that such patients may engender, understand the need to
accept limits to what a physician is empowered to do (Spiro 46). It is an important
responsibility as a physician for taking care of a terminally ill patient. It is there job to make
difficult yet rational decisions for patients and understand the many emotions of a patient. It is to
be considerable that a physician takes on plenty to provide proper care of a patient when

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undergoing through a troubled situation. Doctors and physicians should be respected to the
power they have and be understood of the restrictions they are given. In my eyes if they were to
violate such restrictions they may not be worthy to be someone who can carry the power or
responsibility to care for ill patients. It is in the best interest of medical professionals to provide
what is best for society in how they care for individuals.
Teaching people how to drug themselves to their own death is not the respectable or
safest performance that patients should engage in. Proponents of assisted suicide have said that
ill patients should be given medication to induce their own death in the privacy of their home. In
the Susan Behuniak article she pronounced that, Emphasizing individual control and
empowerment, the organization offered suffering patients instructions on how to use medication
to end life (Death with Dignity 3). The statement made by the Hemlock Society explains how
providing their patients with the knowledge of injecting themselves with medications will give
them a more private and controlled death. Medical advancements have tortured many ill patients
and have gone against their wishes to die comfortably, under the use of euthanasia or morphine.
In direct refute to the argument of the Hemlock Societys to the use of euthanasia as a dignified
way to end life. On page nine it reveals that, Legalized medical killing is a deadly double
standard. (Death with Dignity Behuniak). The legalization of the assisted suicide gives
individuals legal protection to the seriously ill and non-ill to be freely open to a suicide. I agree
that providing the terminally ill and non-terminally ill the right to end their life is reckless. There
is a huge possibility that people who arent ill will take advantage of this practice for their own
sake. The legalization of the law should be banned to preserve the lives of the ill and healthy.
Results show there isnt an understanding that suicide isnt a dignified death or a justified death.

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Modern medicine has advanced dramatically throughout the years that physicians are
able to prevent death but that doesnt mean that they are allowed to help create death. There are
rules that must be met if medical personals intend to be healers. The public would have more
trust in doctors and physicians if they wouldnt allow them to participate in deadly procedures as
in doctor assisted dying. A scholarly article named Physician-Assisted Dying Is Not Ethical
written by Barbara A. Rockett, a physician at Newton-Wellesley Hospital in Newton,
Massachusetts, and former president of the Massachusetts Medical Society. She argues that
Physician-assisted suicide is in direct conflict with the Hippocratic Oath, and the vow to be a
professional health care provider will be violated. The Hippocratic Oath is a pledge that no
doctor shall give no deadly medicine to anyone if asked" and ensures that their primary
responsibility is to "first do no harm". It is a commitment to patients, society, and hospital
committee that guides us in the ethical practice of medicine (Rockett 1). She explains the
commitment a medical professional agrees to when caring for patients; they are given clear
directions to never risk or endanger a patients life. In participating in an act to induce one into a
suicide will go against their pledge to the Hippocratic Oath. There is a potential damage to the
Physician-Patients relationship when the Hippocratic Oath is broken. An individual would be
surrounded by the psychological distress that the use or misuse of a drug may kill them. I believe
medical professionals who dare to provide deadly drugs to patient without reason and cause harm
to patient which is in violation of their commitment to protect patient.
In contrast to the Hippocratic Oath, Western understandings of autonomy are based on the
writings of John Stuart Mills and Immanuel Kant. Patients have the freedom and right to control
their future under circumstances that they must respect others, and their beliefs or not it is the
moral thing to do. In the journal Autonomy and choice in palliative care: time for a new model?

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it announces that, Kantian definitions of autonomy are linked to concepts of liberty and freedom
but constructed in a moral framework, which asserts that individuals are due autonomy, but must,
also respect the autonomy of others (pg.3). Philosopher, Emmanuel Kants approach can be
described as a Supporter of autonomy, the right and freedom to an individuals decision by their
willingness, knowledge and understanding to interpret choices, as well as the ability to make
rational decisions. In spite of a more private death it is still against others view on the issue of
suicide. In a self-deliverance type of death is it still in the hands of physicians because they
would allow it by providing lethal drugs to patient. In Spiros book Annas proclaims that, while
we are obligated to respect the desires of patients and family, the choice of death over life cannot
be viewed as just another choice if medicine is to maintain its moral stature (Facing Death 46).
Annas makes a point that as a professional they are to respect patients wishes, but their desire to
a suicide cannot be seen to be the appropriate use of medicine in the medical profession. Due to
the fact they choose to die rather than live without taking in consideration the view of a
professionals opinion to do so. I can say its improper to want to participate in a self-deliverance
suicide even if an individual is capable of making rational decisions; it damages the medical and
societys view on the value of life.
Many people have developed their moral believes and ethics based on their understanding
of their religion. People tend to make life decisions on what they have learned in their
understanding of their religion. In Christianity their view on the value of the human life isnt
necessarily aligned with the many laws that are now being passed, but that shouldnt make a
difference on their beliefs. David kuo, former deputy director of the White House Office of Faith
based and Community Initiatives was diagnosed with cancer and fought his way through it
courage. He faces ten years of treatment including chemotherapy and radiation which caused him

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damaging effects to his brain. Although he has encountered damage to his emotional, physical
and mental health he keeps on moving forward. His wife, Kim Kuo, avows that, Do you not
know that you are Gods temple and that Gods Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys Gods
temple, God will destroy him. For Gods temple is holy, and you are that temple (3:1617).
According to the quote from the bible it reflects on their experiences at the time. To connect that
if a doctor or anyone were to participate in an assisted suicide they would then be punished.
Anyone, one who chooses to play a role of God; have control of who shall be granted life or have
it taken away, will be considered to have engage in an immoral act. Those who chose to be part
of the sin will suffer the consequences. It can be seen that the human life is a gift and shouldnt
be easily take from, especially in a matter of lethal drugs. Kuo pronounced that, To survive, we
had to immerse ourselves in Scripture passages like these, to reassure our hearts that God had a
plan in the midst of our suffering (Assisted Suicide and Real Death with Dignity). Kou himself
will take on his disease and courage because he values all obstacles in life. Kou shall take
everything his God has sent him with acceptance. In the time of his sufferings he shall be hopeful
that he will make it through and become someone stronger. Kuo strongly beliefs that his
religion strictly permits its a role only for God. By accepting his disease, he focuses on believes
that doctors shouldnt participate in unethical decisions as in taking a persons life. Im my
opinion to take anothers life would be giving doctors to much of a power, as if they can choose
who can and wont live. That type of power shouldnt in the power of medical professionals
because it is unacceptable to engage in an act of a suicide and determine a future of death for the
ill.
Others who may disagree to religious views can argue that an assisted suicide is the
righteous choice. Robert Baxter, a terminally ill patient with lymphocytic Leukemia contested

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the law banning physician assisted death. In Death with Dignity he articulates that, As death
approaches from my disease, however, if my suffering becomes unbearable I want the legal
option of being able to die in a peaceful and dignified manner by consuming medication
prescribed by my doctor for that purpose (Behuniak 3). Baxter makes a statement that if his
disease were to increase his morality rate and his suffering; his desire to have an assisted suicide
would be the best for him. In order to ensure he doesnt live the rest of his live in agony. The
patient feels strongly about his personal decision to take hold of his life. He takes control of his
case to issue a wish to have an assisted death to be his choice. Yet, it is not that easy to take
commands from patients demanding that they want to die, because death is not always the
solution. There are laws and rules to every manner in the hospital. If Baxter were to ever be in a
position of being ill medical professionals will ensure him he will be attended to and give him
the best treatment for his situation. Doctor Astrow had mentioned earlier it is the goal to provide
care and comfort to every patient. Plus, Rocketts argument to the Hippocratic Oath will reserve
him all the rights to be given all necessary care. I believe no one can predict their death, how or
when they will die. When the time has come there will be assurance that the most appropriate
care will be taken without the harm or violation of the patient.
To conclude, any type of suicide is morally wrong but assisted suicide is a conflicting
problem among doctors and their patients. It goes against many views on how human life should
be cherished. The Hippocratic Oath is the protection of peoples right to be served with proper
care while been treated under a doctors care. Doctors and physicians have expressed their
opinions on the issue and have expressed it is in humane to take the lives of their patients.
Although, other believe the wishes of the dying should be respected and they need knowledge

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their suffering. it is clear that our moral believes separate us as a society because both proponents
and opponents have strong points to what we think is right or wrong.
Works Cited
Behuniak, Susan M. "Death with "Dignity: The Wedge That Divides the Disability Rights
Movement from The Right to Die Movement." Politics &The Life Sciences 30.1 (2011):
17-32. Academic Search Premier. Web. 19 Nov. 2015.
Gazzaniga, Michael. "Towards a Universal Ethics." Jacobus, Lee A. A World of Ideas: Essential
Readings for College Writers. 9th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2002. 427. Print. 20
Nov. 2015
Kuo, Kim. Assisted Suicide and Real Death with Dignity. Christianity Today 15 Sept. 2015:1.
Web. 24 Nov. 2015
Rockett, Barbara A. "Physician-Assisted Dying Is Not Ethical." The Right to Die. Ed. Tamara
Thompson. Farmington Hills, MI: Greenhaven Press, 2014. At Issue.Rpt. from
"Physician-Assisted Suicide 'in Direct Conflict' with Doctor's Role." Boston Globe 31
July 2012. Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 15 Nov. 2015.
Spiro, Howard M, Mary G. M. C. Curnen, and Lee P. Wandel. Facing Death: Where Culture,
Religion, and Medicine Meet. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1996. Print. 16 Nov.
2015.
Wilson, Fiona, et al. "Autonomy And Choice In Palliative Care: Time For A New
Model?" Journal Of Advanced Nursing 70.5 (2014): 1020-1029. Consumer Health
Complete - EBSCOhost. Web. 16 Nov. 2015.
Ray, Julie, ed. "The Legality vs. Morality of Life and Death." Gallup. 8 July 2003. Web. 19 Nov.

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2015. <Gallup http://www.gallup.com/poll/8794/Legality-vs-Morality-Life-Death.aspx>

Statistics for anti-assisted suicide and for assisted suicide


A poll made by Gallup, gathered up a group of Americans to ask about the controversial issue
about doctor assisted suicide and suicide. There is a major debate on rather ending a life or
taking your own life is morally acceptable or not. As shown in the graph below there is a divide
on peoples view on doctor assisted suicide with 45% claiming it morally acceptable yet 49% of
people believe it is morally wrong.

Another poll was created but addressed a more specific case where a person who had a severely
ill disease and their request to end their misery. A large amount of 72% of people responses
believed it was right for the law to allow their desires. A small proportion of 26% disagreed to
allow doctors by law end a patients life.

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A large amount of voters considered suicide to be morally wrong. Although on graph two it
showed a majority of people supported it was morally correct to allow people with ill diseases to
die with an application of lethal medicine. Yet individual responses to the third graph made a
change of opinion when the asked about if it was morally right for a patient to have an assisted
suicide.