Should physician-assisted suicide be legal?
via AP

Should physician-assisted suicide be legal?

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#NoStateSuicide
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Right-to-die advocate Dr. David Goodall recently chose to end his own life at age 104. Physician-assisted suicide is already legal in seven states and advocates believe it should be legalized nationwide. Supporters argue individuals should be allowed to "die with dignity" if they are terminally ill or destined to a life of pain. But others consider suicide a morally bankrupt act that the state should have no part in facilitating. Plus, it is “fundamentally incompatible with a physician’s role as healer.” What do you think? 
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Longtime right-to-die advocate Dr. David Goodall recently chose to end his own life at age 104. 

A botanist and ecologist of some renown, [Goodall] was not terminally ill, but his health had deteriorated so badly that he had to stop most of his activities — like working at Edith Cowan University in Perth and performing in the theater — and he did not want to continue living. A fall in his home last month exacerbated his condition.
Mr. Goodall said, “I’ve had a good life.” He was not afraid of death but acknowledged that he previously tried to end his life in Australia.
He said he hoped his life story would “increase the pressure” on Australia to change its laws. “One wants to be free to choose his death when death is at the appropriate time,” Mr. Goodall said.

There are many scenarios we can imagine in which euthanasia could be the ethical thing to do, even if somebody isn't terminally ill. It may be uncomfortable, but death is a part of life individuals should be able to make decisions about their own lives.

The mission of the Death with Dignity National Center is to "provide an option for dying individuals and to stimulate nationwide improvements in end-of-life care."

"The greatest human freedom is to live and die according to our own desires and beliefs."

So far California, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Montana, Oregon, Vermont and Washington all have Death with Dignity laws that allow mentally competent, terminally-ill adult residents to "voluntarily request and receive a prescription medication so they can die in a peaceful, humane manner in a place and time of their choosing."

Everyone has the right to autonomy. We are talking about people making a choice and it's their choice to make. There are regulations to ensure the state makes sure an individual is not being coerced and is in the right state of mind to understand the weight of their decision. But if death is truly is what somebody wants, don't we owe them a dignified death under the circumstances of their choosing?

Not everyone is so convinced "death with dignity" is actually possible in practice. John B. Kelly argues in The Boston Globe that state-assisted suicide laws create perverse incentives for healthcare providers.

The bill, despite its promise of “end-of-life options,” ultimately takes choice away from people. Because assisted suicide would immediately become the cheapest “treatment” offered, it would encourage insurers to reject traditionally covered treatments. That’s already happening in states where assisted suicide is legal.

The Massachusetts Medical Society initially endorsed allowing physician-assisted suicide in the state, but then reversed its position, arguing the law goes against the core values a physician is meant to hold.

The medical society rescinded its longstanding opposition to assisted suicide, commonly held with the American Medical Association, that assisted suicide “would ultimately cause more harm than good” and is “fundamentally incompatible with the physician’s role as healer.”

Involving the state in something so personal and morally questionable is just not a good idea. It would open the door for abusers to bully family members into decisions they may not want. The question of whether an individual is capable of making such a decision is also a very grey area. The field of mental health is still rather nebulous, who is to say whether someone has "impaired judgment?"

Kelly and others believe state-assisted suicide ultimately causes more harm than good. The federal government should not be in the business of helping its citizens kill themselves. 

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