Physician-assisted suicide is the undertaking of assisting those who are terminally ill with their death in order to end their torture and affliction. This process is done through lethal substances given by their physician to those who have been given the prognosis of six months or less to live. This is currently legal in five U.S states including Oregon, Vermont, California, Montana and Washington.
There are many arguments surrounding the support for physician assisted suicide, yet one of the most important one’s is the idea “autonomy argument.” This is the idea that every patient has a right to choose when to die and the overall support for self-government in decision making. If humans have rights through different constructed documents, like the Declaration of Independence, why should there rights be any different in a medical situation? According to Jukka Vareleius of Medicine, Health Care, and Philosophy,”in making our own choices we are being agents, we are using our rational capacities, we are controlling our own lives, we are having a sense of living our own lives, we are creating and forming ourselves, we are giving our lives meaning, purpose.” She touches on the main point in this argument which is the idea that no one should be allowed to take one’s rights from another, and by telling a terminally ill patient when and how they are going to die is completely unjust. No one should have control of such an important decision in a person’s life other than themselves.
In the legal states, the process to partake in assisted-suicide completely grants the deserved rights to the terminally ill patient and allows THEM to take control of their own body. First they must make a formal oral request and file a written request form signed by two witnesses in which only one may be a relative of the patient. Once the request is permitted they are given the medication and are free to take it wherever they would like. This process exemplifies the instilled rights of a human being as these terminally ill patients are given the opportunity to make their own decision to end their lives peacefully instead of suffering through a long and painful wait to ultimately die out of their control.
Essentially, our human rights imply the right to die as exemplified in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.” Clearly, these rights can correlate to the argument of autonomy and the individual decision to physician assisted suicide. Death is a private matter and if there is no implications or damage to others, then other people and the state should have no right to interfere with these situations.
Euthanasia not only ends the horrific suffering of a terminally ill patient but more importantly it allows them to take life into their own hands and truly die dignified.