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Essay/Term paper: Assisted suicide

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Sociology Term Papers

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Assisted suicide is a controversial issue in our society today. We ask the question, should people have the right to decide when and how to end their lives? Imagine a loved one in unbearable pain and knows it is only going to get worst until finally death. What if a loved one came to you and asked you to help them escape all their pain and suffering. Wouldn"t you want to help that loved one if you could? Hazel Blazer suffering from cerebral spinal meningitis that could not be cured is an example. Eugene Bauer suffering from terminal throat cancer, or Clarence Herbert who suffered a heart attack and remained in a coma. There are two places in which terminally ill patients can be legally assisted in suicide. The Netherlands is one place where assisted suicide is common among terminally ill. The method they use is euthanasia. Euthanasia is considered very humane and done very carefully. The family has the right to be there when terminally ill patient is given the drugs. The process is totally up to the patient if they want to end their life or not. Another place where assisted suicide is legal is in Oregon. Passed by the voters in 1994 the law enables terminally ill patients to obtain lethal doses of medication if their doctor determines they have less then six months to live. The right to die is illegal in most places, but yet an individual has a constitutional right to request the withdrawal and withholding of medical treatment even if doing so results in death. The right of a person to refuse medical treatment is widely practiced and a more accepted way to end ones live in our society. Living wills are one way to refuse medical treatment. These wills are legal documents which state how much treatment a person wants and where to stop. Another way to refuse medical treatment is do-not-resuscitate orders. In which the person states if something would happen they would not want to be resuscitated. The raises an important question, is the request of assistance in dying just an extension of an individual right to control the kind of treatment received when dying? Karen Ann Quinlan suffered a respiratory arrest which left her in permanent vegetative state. The condition left her unable to breathe without respirator and unable to eat without a feeding tube. The family went through the courts to remove her from her life support and eventually were granted the right to do so. In 1990 the U. S. Supreme Court heard the case of Nancy Cruzan versus Director of Missouri Department of Health and recognized that the right to refuse unwanted medical care is a liberty interest and constitutionally protected. One 1997 court case Washington versus Glucksberg asked whether the due-process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment protects liberty of patients to end their own lives. Glucksberg argues a person should be free to decide not only when but how to die and that assisted suicide would assure human freedom. A similar case Vacco versus Quill questioned the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Quill argued that assisted suicide would promote equal justice. So far in the United States eleven people have been charged with assisting in killing terminally ill patients or family members. Of those eleven not one has ever been convicted or  

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