Physician Assisted Suicide

By Wayne Spencer - October 22, 2003

The liberal side of me wants to agree and say that a person nearing the end of their life and in pain should be able to decide to end their life with the aid of a physician. After all I do know of countries in Europe where this practice is legal and acceptable. However, Europe is not the same as the United States.

Presently in the United States we already have deaths purposely performed on willing patients every day. Yes, every day terminal cancer patients in great pain are given lethal doses of morphine. Perhaps you may have friends or relatives who have died this way. It must be a great relief to the patient in most of these cases.

I believe that in a really free society where the patient is making a free choice that physician assisted suicide is acceptable.

However, I question whether in the United States, at the present time, a patient is making a free choice. A free choice must be made between living and dying without any other circumstances tipping the balance in favor of death or life.

Often, a patient is reminded that he or she can no longer stay in the hospital. Most hospitals cannot keep a patient who no longer can be treated successfully. Usually, hospital insurance regulations require that a patient be released from the hospital when treatment ends. The patient is notified by mail by both the insurance carrier and the hospital administrator. This has a chilling effect on a patient who is already feeling vulnerable.

They are likely asking themselves: "Where will I go? I don't want to be a burden on my children. My insurance doesn't cover the cost of a nursing home. They will take my money and my home to cover the costs. My single parent daughter needs that money that I planned to leave her. I guess it's time to give up."

When a person in this state of mind decides to end their life, it is not a free choice.

Until we have a health care system that guarantees adequate care for all of us, I cannot belive that physician assisted suicide is an option that we should consider making legal.

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Copyright © 2003 by Wayne Spencer - This article may be freely distributed with this copyright notice attached.