Death with Dignity Act: Physician-Assisted Suicide

Introduction

This paper enumerates the fundamental aspects regarding the Death with Dignity Act (DDA) as well as the Physician-Assisted Suicide (PAS). It also states the public policy and debate concerning this decree, the pros and cons, the Oregon establishment, and the Euthanasia procedure among other elements.

What is the Death with Dignity Act? What Are the Technical Aspects of the Physician-Assisted Suicide?

As MacCormick (2014) writes, the Death with Dignity Act (DDA) embodies a legislative clause that endorses a self-administered end-of-life solution. The decree empowers terminally ill adult patients to relinquish their lives through physician-prescribed suicides. However, the sufferer must be mentally stable, as such a decision demands a meticulous and prudent contemplation. Hopelessness, impaired physical functions, and arduous symptom distresses constitute the essential factors that may drive an individual to seek a Physician-Assisted Suicide (PAS). The PAS entails lethal doses of barbiturates proposed by a consulting physician at the request of the patient (Hosseini, 2012).

Oregon establishment

Rollins (2014) asserts that Oregon instituted the DDA statute on 27 October 1997 following the 1994 public ratification. According to MacCormick (2014), the bill has weathered multiple court trials such as the 2006 Supreme Court Ruling. The DDA implementation demands the absolute publication of physicians/ patients’ information and annual statistical accounts by the Oregon Health Authority.

What other states voted

Washington State ordained the DDA bill in 2008 and inaugurated it as law in 2009 (MacCormick, 2014). As regards Vermont, the governor, Mr. Peter Shumlin, signed the bill into law on 20 May 2013.

Euthanasia

Euthanasia encompasses the mercy killings of the incurably ill patients suffering from irremediable convulsions (Hosseini, 2012). The application of euthanasia aims at ameliorating personal autonomy, dignity, and bodily integrity.

Jack Kevorkian

Dr. Kevorkian’s life

Dr. Jack Kevorkian was a pathologist, whose infatuation with euthanasia emanated from percolating organ harvesting, cadaver blood transfusions, and criminal investigations. As Hosseini (2012) asserts, Kevorkian administered euthanasia on more than 130 victims, thereby, attracting numerous lethal charges, an ultimate 8-year jail term, and negation of his medical license.

How he helped patients die

The physician marketed his death counseling services in the Detroit newspaper, quotes Hosseini (2012). His preliminary patrons consisted of Janet Adkins (54 years) and Marjorie Wantz (58 years), whom he induced with the Thanatron lethal inoculations. Kevorkian also used carbon monoxide to facilitate painless and happy deaths.

Brittany Maynard

Her life story and how she chose to move to Oregon

Brittany Maynard was an American citizen, residing in California with her husband, Daniel Esteban Diaz (Rollins, 2014). Her fatal brain cancer illness started exhibiting signs in January 2014 in the form of a grade 2 astrocytoma. Despite undergoing a temporal lobe abscission, the tumor reappeared in April 2014, escalating to a grade 4 glioblastoma. As MacCormick (2014) declares, the attending physician informed her that the prognosis entailed only six more months to live. This revelation drove her and her family to relocate to Oregon from California to access the DDA law. Before her prearranged death day, 1 November 2014, she actively campaigned for the right-to-die cause (Compassion & Choices), aimed at legalizing physician-assisted deaths.

Assisted suicide

As outlined by Rollins (2014), Brittany secured the death prescription drugs- barbiturates- through a successful completion of the Patient Request Form. Once her consulting physician prescribed the dose, she consumed it on the fateful day and died as her family looked on.

Statistics on other patients who requested PADs

Oregon has documented a 21% escalation in the number of assisted death petitions from 2009 to 2012: 115 (2012), 114 (2011), 97 (2010), and 95 (2009). MacCormick (2014) points out that the DWDA deaths mostly target the elderly persons with big fortunes. Washington, on the other hand, has observed fourteen counts of assisted suicide requests ever since the law fired up operations on 5 March.

Public Policy and Debate: Pros and Cons

Rollins (2014) analyzes that 77% of the public endorse the doctor-assisted suicides while 23% contest them. The supporters claim that the ‘treatment’ triggers deflection of miseries, depressions, chronic pains, and lack of control. The opponents, on the other hand, state that the operation devalues the medical discipline as it assumes a killer role. It has freed the Pandora’s Box, facilitating scandalous killings and involuntary euthanasia: In 1995, Netherlands encountered 1,000 involuntary euthanasia deaths.

Personal Opinion

I deem PAD as a barbaric and unbecoming societal trend. The practice comes down to murder as it involves the manipulation of life, intentional omissions and planned deaths. Furthermore, the legalization of the act has only precipitated a diminished quality of the end-of-life care. Medics are now opting for assisted suicides even when the patients are not terminally ill, as it is less strenuous, time-saving, and cheaper in terms of research costs.

Conclusion

The Death with Dignity Act capacitates suffering patients to halt their lives due to the conceptualized fears and trepidations of dishonorable deaths. In essence, it negates the sanctity of life and God’s sovereignty in preference of medics/ patients’ convenience. The medical profession should realize that life is sacred and fulfill it instead of succumbing to hardships.

References

Hosseini, H. (2012). Ethics, the illegality of physician-assisted suicide in the United States, and the role and ordeal of Dr. Jack Kevorkian before his death. Review of European Studies, 4(5), 200-205.

MacCormick, F. (2014). Assisting suicide goes against why most of us became doctors. British Medical Journal, 349(7970), 15-18.

Rollins, D. (2014). The trumped up case against Brittany Maynard. Progressive Populist, 20(22), 4-9.

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