ASSISTED SUICIDE 5
The debate on assisted suicide has been intense, and some as manypeople support the practice as there are those who oppose thispractice. Notably, this is a method whereby a patient with a terminalillness whose time to live is less than six months take lethal butmedically prescribed drugs to end his or her life (Hume, 2015). Thedebate on this practice is widespread in the United States as well asin other developed countries. It is essential to state that thedeveloping countries, especially in Africa and Asia, are yet toaccept the notion that a person’s life can be ended on the basis ofa doctor’s assessment of his her chances to survive.
The history of assisted suicide dates back to the 5th century B.C.before the coming of Christianity. The ancient Romans and the Greekswere tolerant to suicides and euthanasia, and human life was notvalued. However, between the 12th and 15th centuries after theestablishment of Christianity, the Hippocratic Oath was enforced andassisted suicide was declared illegal. By the 17th century, commonlaw in the United States had illegalized assisted suicide for over700 years. Between the 17th and 18th century, reformation andrenaissance writers had started to oppose the position of the churchregarding assisted suicide (Manning, 2011). However, it is importantto note that the debate was never severe and the position on assistedsuicide remained the same. Samuel Williams was the first person inAmerica in 1870 to advocate for this practice publicly. His campaignsattracted serious public debate and drew the attention in the medicaljournals. After the defeat of two bills seeking to allow euthanasiawere defeated in 1905 and 1905, the debate over assisted suicideseemed to recede until 1915 when Dr. Haiselden allowed a child to dierather than operating it to save the life.
In the 1970s, the issue of patient’s rights took center stage andsoon some hospitals would start to accept the patient bill of rights.Doctors were to allow patients to reject medication or treatment evenif the treatment was life-saving. By 1984, the American MedicalAssociation allowed doctors to withdraw life Prolonging MedicalTreatment from some patient in some circumstances (Leget, 2014). In1987, the California State bar became the first public organizationto support assisted suicide. By 1990, studies and surveys showed thatover half of the Americans supported this practice. States such asOregon, Vermont, California, and Washington have enacted laws thatsupport assisted suicide.
Opposing sides of
There are arguments made by both the people who support suicide andthose who are opposed to the practice. The supporters of thispractice argue that the patient has the right to decide what he orshe wants with his or her life (Bradley & Ousbey, 2012). Further,most of the patients who seek assisted suicide services are usuallyterminally ill, and their chances of survival are nil. On thecontrary, the people who are opposed to this practice argue that thepractice is immoral, and no one has authority to end another person’slife except God.
Biblical passages relevant to assisted suicide
The Bible is clear about the issue of assisted suicide, and itasserts that only God can bring an end to someone’s life(Deuteronomy 32:39, New King James Version). It is evident from theBible that the punishment for assisted suicide is death. Davidsentenced the unnamed Amalekite to death after he confessed that hekilled Saul after he was wounded in war (2 Samuel 1:1-16, New KingJames Version).
While concluding, it is evident that the debate on assisted suicidewill take a long time before the parties involved get into aconsensus. Further, the fact that the issue adopts a religiousdimension complicates the matter even more. However, theillegalization of assisted suicide seems to be the popular opinion. Ibelieve that the right to life is sacred and there is nobody who hasthe right to end another person’s life. There is no justificationfor ending what someone cannot start.
Bradley, W. & Ousbey, J. (2012). The Truth about Suicide.London: Demos.
Hume, D. (2015). A treatise of human nature. Oxford: OxfordUniversity Press.
Leget, C. (2014). Assisted dying – the current debate in theNetherlands. European Journal of Palliative Care 20:168–171.
Manning, M. (2011). Euthanasia and physician-assistedsuicide: Killing or caring? New York, NY: Paulist Press.
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