According to DeathwithDignity.org, Death with Dignity is when a person with a terminal illness requests and, now legally, receives a prescribed medication from their physician, to willingly end their life in “a peaceful, humane and dignified manner.”
Dignity is defined as “the state or quality of being worthy of honor or respect.” This poses the question, is it honorable or worthy of respect to take your own life?
Make no mistake, Death with Dignity is Assisted Suicide. It is the taking of human life. A physician is present in the operation. What some forget is that “one of the oldest binding documents in history” is an Oath written that is to be held sacred by physicians to not do harm.
Now that Death with Dignity is legal in multiple states, how are doctors supposed to honor their own oath if they are put into the position of deciding whether or not to kill a person in order to spare them their pain?
The doctor’s oath is to benefit the sick and help these patients live, not take their lives.
According to statnews.com, there are patients who are of old age or patients with long-term illnesses, which is more than 40% of the total population of this country. How do you think that person is feeling? Pressured? Maybe feeling like a burden?
Having to be under a 24/7 watch, needing to be assisted for everything in their lives, not being able to live freely and happily. Are they not able to move by themselves? They feel they must do something, whatever in their power, to stop being a burden to others.
Allowing for assisted suicide to be an option forces this dying patient to take on a choice to lift this burden off their family’s shoulders. Living under the pressure of the option to die is inhumane.
On the proposition side, it can be argued that some people don’t want to live that way. That giving the option of death gives them a choice over their own fate. Well, there is a way, where patients can live the rest of their time, slightly less painfully — palliative care.
According to the World Health Organization, at the end stages of life, those in palliative care are given medication and health care to optimize their quality of life and to minimize the pain they suffer. It is a way to live, not an option to die.
Due to the fact that Death with Dignity stands in opposition to both moral and ethical codes of conduct from religious and moral leaders (specifically those from the Catholic Church), I move to say that Death with Dignity should be morally unethical.
Fundamentally, I believe that this action gives the patient and the doctor too much power. It is essentially playing with a person’s life and ultimately their death. Many religious and moral leaders say that “life is a gift from God, which mankind does not have dominion over.” Again, to reference the Hippocratic Oath, “If it is given me to save a life, all thanks… Above all, I must not play at God.”
Death with Dignity is in contradiction to a doctor’s Oath not to harm. It stands in opposition to both moral and ethical codes of conduct, and there are other alternatives to this course such as Palliative care. Death with dignity is not the right option, and it should never be an option.