End of Life or End of Suffering?

by cynthiachu on September 11, 2013 - 9:27pm


Human beings and other living creatures of the world surely have the right of deciding their path of life. In fact, what pushed me to read furthermore about this article is the fact that one is questioning this fundamental right.

In this article, it talks about a woman from Pennsylvania Barbara Mancini, who is sentenced to 10 years in jail because she aided the suicide of his dying father who was suffering from severe diseases and who was terminally ill. She was practicing the profession of nurse when provided him a bottle of painkiller that contained a certain amount of lethal dose. She claims that she did it because he asked for it so that he could commit suicide and, thereafter, end his suffering.

I think that death has always been a delicate topic to discuss. But one needs to know when to talk about it and take actions towards it when one is in a desperate need. Today, only four states in the United States have established a law allowing medical assisted suicide.  Yet, the states and countries that are against assisted suicide claim that it is because there could be high risks of abuse of suicide because of the fact that it seems as an easy way of exit for the patient. However, in opposition to this statement, this practice is not given to anybody. In fact, the applicants first must be suffering from illness that have no chance of being cured in addition to the unbearable pain and unendurable disabilities that goes along with this desease. Then, the patient must hand in all the medical reports and the evaluation of an independent psychiatric. Overall, this practice is well controlled and, therefore, should not be feared by people because of the fact it has the possibility of increasing the amounts of death. Indeed, let’s not forget that the main reason supporting this practice is because it can actually end the suffering of some people.



Physician-assisted suicide should be allowed in more countries. As you said, this process is well controlled in order to prevent any abuse of the system. I think human euthanasia in the Netherlands is an interesting example of how physician-aided suicide can work within a country. In the Netherlands, patients who are suffering from an extremely painful and incurable illness and who wish to end their lives have the possibility to do so. A doctor must be present during the procedure to prevent any unwanted accidents. Although this system is not perfect – besides, no system is truly perfect – it has ended a lot of patient suffering throughout the years, and I think a similar system should be applied in more countries. You said it very well: in the end, what is most important is to decrease the amount of suffering in the world.

I agree with what you said; terminally ill patients with no chance of recovery should be able to decide to end their life and get assistance to do it as painlessly as possible. Strict regulations are essential to prevent an abuse of this right, or possibility, to aid someone in taking their own life. I think that a person must be autonomous, in other words be mentally capable of making their own choices, in order for it to be acceptable. But we have to be careful here. It can become difficult to know for sure if it is really the patient’s deep wish to end his or her life or is someone, for some reason, is taking advantage of their unfortunate situation to kill them? This question of autonomy and choice can be an incredibly grey area. Also, regulations, as you mentioned, require a patient to have no chance of survival in the long run. Assisted suicide would only allow their suffering to end more quickly. But some cases can make us question this requirement. Robert Lattimer killed his 12-year-old daughter who was suffering from a condition that put her in severe pain and incapable of thinking at a level higher than a three months old baby. She was obviously not autonomous and the decision did not come from her. But Lattimer swore that he did it out of love for his daughter, to end her life of pain. A consequentialist would say that Lattimer was right, since his goal was to end his daughter’s suffering. On the other hand, a deontological approach would disagree by arguing that killing is always wrong. This all brings me to say that it is a very complicated issue, each case, each patient is different and it is not easy to say if assisted suicide is right or wrong. Here is a link to the article on Robert Lattimer if you are interested: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2010/12/06/f-robert-latimer-compassi...

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