Everyone who is born will die.
All humans face death sooner or laterin their lifetime. It is the wish of many, especially sufferingindividuals, to die peacefully and without pain. Death is beyond ourcontrol, but should we be allowed to decide the time of our death?There are proponents on both sides of this controversial issue, butwith all the complications and dangers associated with legalizingassisted suicide, it should not become an option available toanyone. Many believe that individuals suffering immensely physically deservethe right to end their pain. Why should not patients with incurablediseases be allowed to terminate their misery and find relief forthemselves? It seems unreasonable to some that those with terminalillnesses should suffer through what is left of their life in agonyknowing that there is no hope for a cure. Yet, the many consequencesof legalizing assisted suicide must be considered thoroughly.
Ifassisted suicide becomes a fundamental right for certain patients,there will be no logical way to limit the right to only a smallnumber of exceptional cases. Such is the dilemma faced by the fewcountries that have permitted assisted suicide to be legalized. If assisted becomes legal, where will the boundary be set at who canreceive the treatment? When it first became legal for doctors toinduce deaths in the Netherlands, the permits were granted only whena patient was experiencing unbearable pain or terminally ill. Twentyyears after euthanasia became legal in the nation, however, theguidelines under physicians inducing death have come to includedepressed patients who are physically healthy, patients whorepeatedly and voluntarily request death, elders, and individualswith severe disabilities.
There is not a standard tool that can beused to measure how immensely an individual is suffering. There isno limit that can be set and unchangeable. The border set for thosewho can choose to use assisted suicide is edged wider each time aphysician or individual wins a legal breakthrough. If assistedsuicide becomes legal, it cannot be kept from eventually becomingavailable to many in virtually all circumstances. The legalization of assisted suicide also endangers many inunfavorable circumstances.
Not all those euthanized are choosing toend their lives. For instance, several cases in the 1991 RemmelinkReport on euthanasia reveals that there are many cases in theNetherlands where patients are involuntarily euthanized. Babies bornmentally retarded or with birth defects are being denied the chanceof life. It is common for pediatricians to kill newborns in theircribs. Doctors may make the presumption that those with severedisabilities would rather die than live. Without laws forbidding aidto suicides, real danger of murder being committed under the pretextof assisting a suicide arises.
The legalizing of assisted suicidetakes away the protection of the lives of the vulnerable. Not only does assisted suicide endanger life, it may lead to thedenying of adequate aid for patients. Legalizing assisted suicidemay dispose physicians and patients to end lives of great sufferingrather than attempt to ease them by using the means already at handfor relief of pain. Doctors may consider not to waste the effort torelieve the pain and depression of patients with medication and aidwhen there is a more convenient and permanent treatment option. Somepatients will be deprived of appropriate medication and mentalguidance. What would keep cynical individuals from encouraging thosesuffering to end their lives so that they can eliminate the burdenof caring and spending money on the patient? Ailing elders might beput under the pressure to speed up their deaths from impatientrelatives and cost-conscious health insurance providers, includingthe government.
Society would gradually be pushing for the death ofits members. If the disabled, chronically ill, or terminally ill people aredeclared better off dead, which group of people will be next? Oncethe right is granted for some, what will stop others from gainingthe right? Death becomes the easy and permanent solution forindividuals who are suffering perhaps only temporary pain. Ill-considered decisions to terminate life cannot be prevented andmurder will become all easier. The complications and dangers oflegalizing assisted suicide far outweigh the possible benefits. Toprovide necessary protection of life, assisted suicide cannot beconsidered and offered to people under any circumstance.We need topush for the repealing of laws that grant assisted suicide toindividuals and prevent any other measures that may legalize the actfrom being passed.