Looking for a Better Death

Essay by tovarishchUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, March 2004

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Keywords: Euthanasia, assisted suicide, moral, physician assisted suicide,

Looking for a Better Death

In the last century medical science has made dramatic progress improving the quality of health care and becoming capable of extending not only the life span of human life, but also the dying process, in frequent instances beyond the limits many people would find tolerable or acceptable. As a result, dying patients have started to search for the ways to control the manner and timing of their deaths by means of different techniques. One of them is physician-assisted suicide.

In recent years, physician-assisted suicide has been highly debated both in the media and in the community. A particular increase in interest in assisted suicide took place after the recent legalization of physician-assisted suicide in the Netherlands. However, euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide have been "socially accepted and openly practiced in the Netherlands for about two decades" (Emanuel 1376).

Legalization has merely classified and organized what already existed and did not bring any significant changes to current practices. The key question is whether legalization of physician-assisted suicide in the Netherlands will motivate similar developments in the United States. So far, only Oregon has legally accepted physician-assisted suicide, and the U.S. Supreme Court has recently considered "the constitutionality of criminal prohibitions on assisted suicide" (Lewis 45). A number of other attempts have been made to introduce legislation to legalize assisted suicide. According to Penney Lewis, "a model statute has been drafted by a group of law professors, philosophers and medical professionals" (45). However, research proves that the widespread adoption of euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide can be ineffective and even dangerous. Further, in the ongoing debate over the legalization of assisted suicide some very significant issues concerning doctor involvement, doctor-patient relationships and the psychological aspects of medical care have been underestimated...