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First Word: Why should we assist someone in killing themselves?

Rachelle Jones, Staff Writer

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     When republicans talk about “the right to life,” many automatically think about abortion. However, there is another subsection of this topic: physician-assisted suicide. According to CNN, as of 2017, five states have legalized physician-assisted death where physicians prescribe drugs which kill the patient.
While this practice is often portrayed as a compassionate option for those who are living with unimaginable pain, it is anything but understanding and sympathetic. Americans must stand against physician-assisted suicide regardless of their party affiliation.
There are many reasons why physician-assisted suicide should be illegal. For one, physician-assisted may be utilized for financial reasons. Killing someone with a pill is much less expensive than treating an individual with the intent of saving their life or making them comfortable until death. Therefore, there is a chance that insurance companies and HMOs will encourage this option.

     In addition, families may pressure the sick individual into this option because it is financially beneficial for them. Therefore, coercion may be present in the option to die (Christian Medical and Dental Association). The poor are thus targeted. Individuals who do not have the money to pay for care may determine that physician-assisted suicide is their best option.

    A further concern is that minority groups may be targeted. According to the Christian Medical and Dental Association, “No matter how carefully any guidelines for doctor-prescribed suicide are framed, the practice will be implemented through the prism of social inequality and bias that characterizes the delivery of services in all segments of our society, including health care. The practices will pose the greatest risks to those socially marginalized groups.”  Therefore, the same issue observed with abortion is seen with physician-assisted suicide: Minority groups are targeted.

     In an interview conducted with thirty-five families, researchers asked questions to those who had a family member that committed physician-assisted suicide. Nine factors arose as cited as encouraging individuals to make their decisions, with each family stating multiple factors. While pain was a factor (as stated by 40 percent of families), 63 percent of families stated that the individual felt like they lost their sense of self, 60 percent were concerned about their future quality of life, and 9% percent said they felt like they were a burden on others.

     These issues sound like ones that many dying individuals would face; but they call for the help of a professional therapist, not pills to kill the individual. If physicians help vulnerable people commit suicide because they feel threats to sense of self or fear about the future, we lost all sense of humanity (ProCon.org).
A further concern is where the line is drawn for physician-assisted suicide. For now it is reserved for people who are living with a terminal illness. However, in the future will we allow people who are paralyzed to kill themselves? People with disabilities? Will we allow physicians to help kill anyone who feels like an illness or exceptionality decreases their quality of life? These are disturbing thoughts but could become a reality if states continue to permit physician-assisted suicide.

     According to the Hippocratic Oath historically taken by physicians, “Above all, I must not play at God.” However, if a doctor can help a vulnerable individual kill himself or herself, they are doing just that. Physician-assisted death is not “death with dignity.” It is helping individuals who feel scared and lost kill themselves as a convenience to their family and friends. Americans, both democrats and republicans, must unite together and end this atrocious practice.

Rachelle is an education major. She is the president of the BU College Republicans.

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First Word: Why should we assist someone in killing themselves?