Legalizing Assisted Suicide
PHI 103: Informal Logic
April 4, 2011
Legalizing Assisted Suicide
Part I: Thesis
Jack Kevorkian did not invent assisted suicide, he just happened to be responsible for bringing it out into the open. The practice of assisted suicide is not a modern experience. Lester Zygmaniak, 23, shot and killed his brother George who was paralyzed from the neck down in a motorcycle accident in Freehold, N.J. Lester was found not guilty by reason of temporary insanity after only 2 ½ hours of deliberation. He walked out of court a free man. In the United States, the practice of assisted suicide is also nothing new. As of today, ...view middle of the document...
Withdrawing or withholding medical treatment such as disconnecting a respirator or removing a feeding tube, signing a form that is commonly referred to as a DOR (do not resuscitate order) is commonly known as passive euthanasia and has become the accepted resolution to this predicament. Active euthanasia, the practice of actively participating in the act of ending ones life possibly by poison, an overdose of sleeping pills, or a deadly injection of pain-killers such as morphine remains controversial. Assisted suicide is most widely defined as a type of active euthanasia in which a doctor or a loved one provides the means of death, usually by prescribing or obtaining a lethal dose of drugs, but the patient is responsible for performing the final act.
The constitution does not guarantee a person rights over their individual bodies,
however, it does offer the following:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they
are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these
are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
If the pursuit of happiness means that, a loved one wants to end their suffering how the government can deny them that basic right and if they have the right to life, how can the government deny them the death that they seek to end their suffering. There are thirty-five states, the U.S. Government and the U.S. Military that have the death penalty, within those states, laws have been put into place to protect murders from inhumanely being put to death, but if you are a law-abiding citizen, you must suffer unspeakable pain in some cases before you die. Criminals have more rights when it comes to their death then the average person.
Part II: Anti-thesis
America’s courts and legislatures have not changed significantly over the past several decades when it comes to assisted suicide. In June 1997, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that people do not have a constitutional right to assisted suicide. "The state's assisted suicide ban reflects and reinforces its policy that the lives of terminally ill, disabled, and elderly people must be no less valued than the lives of the young and healthy," Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist wrote as the court took up the question of assisted suicide for the first time. (Biskupic, 1997) 1990 to present Michigan pathologist Jack Kevorkian, known as "Dr. Death," has admitted to assisting in 45 suicides. He has been charged with murder and other crimes but has never been convicted. 1997, Supreme Court upholds New York and Washington state laws that criminalize doctor-assisted suicide. 1990, U.S. Supreme Court rules in a case involving Nancy Beth Cruzan that a person has a "right to die" grounded in the Fourteenth Amendment's guarantee of personal liberty. But the court also called attention to living wills by holding that states can require clear and convincing evidence of a patient's previously expressed wish to die. 1976,...