23 April 2018
Why People Should have the Option to Die with Dignity
Death with dignity or assisted suicide is a highly contentious topic and is defined as “suicide undertaken with the aid of another person, sometimes a physician.” (American Heritage Dictionary) Opponents of assisted suicide contend that it is immoral and should remain illegal, regardless of a terminal diagnosis and diminished quality of life. Proponents of assisted suicide believe that an individual has a right to choose to die with dignity when they are facing the brutality of a terminal illness and significant loss in quality of life. Imagine a loved one lying in a hospital bed suffering in agonizing pain. Tears and sadness can be seen on the faces of family and friends wishing there was something they could do. Then, the doctor informs you that the loved one has a terminal illness and will never resume a quality life. How does one let their loved one live in pain if they have chosen to die with dignity? The Hippocratic Oath holds doctors to the promise that they will do no harm. Proponents of death with dignity contend that not honoring the choice of their loved one to end life peacefully is doing harm. It should be legal for terminally ill patients to choose medically assisted end of life measures because no human being should be required to suffer through the end of a terminal illness, unless that is their desire.
It is a known truth that American citizens are entitled to the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Within this entitled liberty, shouldn’t the right to living and dying also be included? According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), this right should be given to competent terminally ill patients. The ACLU aided in the Vacco v. Quill case in 1997 and claims that the court’s interference “substantially interferes with this protected liberty interest and cannot be sustained.” (Vacco v. Quill) Their main argument is that under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the US Constitution, the state cannot interfere with a person’s choice to live or die. The Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment declares that no State shall "deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law." (US Constitution, Amendment XIV) The second point made in this case is that a “Blanket Ban” on assistance to suicide is an obstacle to the rights of the terminally ill to decide to end their suffering and it is not within the best interests of The States to assert this ban. Quill additionally says that terminally ill patients on life support already have the right to hasten their death and that denying this privilege to terminally ill patients, not on life support is a violation of the equal protection clause of the fourteenth amendment of the US Constitution. This case was argued in 1997 in the United States Court of Appeals for the Second District of New Yo...