Legalization of Mercy Killing or Physician Assisted Suicide

Legalizationof Mercy Killing or Physician Assisted Suicide

Issuespertaining to physician assisted suicide have drawn considerablecontroversy in the recent times. This should not come as a surpriseconsidering that the issue at hand revolves around life and death ofan individual. Nevertheless, physician-assisted suicide underlines asituation where patient who is terminally ill and experiencingimmense pain if given the capacity to order the doctors to stopmedical treatment so that they can slip to their deaths. The issue oflegalization essentially asks whether the doctors who shortened thelife expectancy of the patient using pain-killing medications shouldbe prosecuted to not. While there may be varying opinions, physicianassisted suicide should be legalized in the United States.

First,the legalization would, essentially, assertthe patient’s right to die.It is noted that a competent but terminally ill individual isentitled to making decisions pertaining to avoiding excruciating painand, instead, embracing a dignified and timely death. Indeed, thiscomes as an implicit concept of liberty, in which case exercisingthis right would be as fundamental to the individual independence andbodily integrity as other rights (Swift 10). This means that thefailure to legalize physician-assisted suicide with regard toterminally ill and competent patients who would want to avert thepossibility of unendurable pain through hastening inevitable deathwould considerably interfere with the safeguarded liberty interest.

Inaddition, physician assisted suicide would come as desirable ininstances where the individual’squality of life has substantially depreciated to the extent that theindividual is in immense emotional and physical pain.As much as a lot of people are afraid of death, a large part of thefear emanates from the worry and uncertainty pertaining to its beingpreceded by nerve-wracking pain. Allowing individuals to makedecisions regarding the manner in which they should die as well aswhen they should means that they are guaranteed about living theirlives without the prospects of diminishing the quality of theirexistence. It is, with no doubt, a much less quality life when anindividual spends the last days of his or her life in immense pain oras a cabbage. For example, if one is involved in an accident thataffects his brain and spinal cord, there would be no hope for everrecovering and becoming normal again. The immense pain and theprospects of becoming cabbage prior to one’s death wouldundoubtedly reduce a person’s quality of life. Indeed, a largenumber of people would prefer to die before such an occurrence, whichis what the physician-assisted suicide gives them the capacity to do.

Moreover,the legalization of physician-assisted suicide would, in fact, makeeconomic sense.Of course, it is unimaginable that economics would be factored indecisions pertaining to their life and death. Nevertheless, it hasbeen acknowledged that the provision of end-of-life care in theUnited States is absurdly expensive. This could mean that thepatient’s family would be left with a crippling debt. For example,an individual suffering from terminal cancer would need end-of-lifecare, whose provision goes beyond $45,000. A large number of familiesmay be hard pressed to have or provide this amount of money, not tomention the fact that the individual is not only in excruciating painbut also terminally ill. There have been instances where anindividual who is barely alive is still sustained with the use ofmachines, despite the fact that there was no hope for turning backthe trend. As Hook notes, a large number of patients at such stagesdread the prospects of imposing another round of misery on theirfamilies and loved ones by clinging on to life whereas they will nothave the capacity to make a worthwhile contribution to the bettermentof their families’ lives (Hook 4). End of life care is usuallynasty and expensive, and puts patients via long periods ofunnecessary suffering in an effort to provide them with an extra weekor two. As the terminally ill individual gets this expensive andbrutal treatment, they persistently insist that they prefer to bedead. In essence, such expenditure would not be beneficial to thepatient, who should actually be the main focus.

Nevertheless,some people feel that physician assisted suicide should never belegalized as it amounts to an attempt to usurp the authority thatwould only be with God (Swift 11). Indeed, they feel thatphysician-assisted suicide is tantamount to killing, which is againstthe ten commandments of God. On the same note, they opine that suchan action would be against the Hippocratic oath, which doctors agreedto adhere to when beginning their careers, and which prevented themfrom acting in a way that would harm the patient. For Example, Wagnerfeels that the doctors may coerce patients to take this cheap andeasy alternative even in instances where the patients have theopportunity to recover fully (Wagner 9). However, it is imperativethat one acknowledges that keeping a terminally ill individual alivewhile he or she is in excruciating pain and there is no hope forsurvival would be harmful than heeding their requests for assistancein ending their lives.

Inconclusion, physician assisted suicide has been a controversial topicfor a long time, with different people holding different opinionsregarding its legalization. However, in my measured opinion, thephysician assisted suicide should be legalized. Indeed, individualshave the right to determine when and how their lives should endparticularly when they are terminally ill and competent. On the samenote, physician assisted suicide would enhance the quality of life ofan individual in the end times, while also saving the family somefinancial resources that would have been unnecessarily used insustaining him or her while there is no hope for survival. To make itmore efficient, it is imperative that decisions on whether to assistthe patient, not only involve the physician and the patient, but alsothe patient’s family and other professionals.


Swift,Kenneth. The Right to Choose Death. Los Angeles Times, 2005, webretrieved from

Wagner,Teresa. R. Promotinga Culture of Abandonment.2002. Print

Hook,Sidney. In defense of Voluntary Euthanasia. New York Times, 1987.Print