Amy Brown, '17
Political Science major; Crawfordsville, IN
"Out of all the decisions we will make in our lifetimes, the one decision many of us will not make is the decision to die. Death in our culture is an inevitable occurrence that will happen at a time unknown to us. Should it be that way? Physician-assisted suicide would allow for people to make the decision to die much in the same way they make the decision to marry or buy a house. The difference, of course, is the finality; however, in a society where bodily autonomy and the ability to make one’s own decisions are highly prized, would it be ethical to allow a person to choose to die in a medically guaranteed fashion?
"The societal stigma against suicide leads many to stand against physician-assisted suicide. Euthanasia, another facet to the question of physician-assisted suicide, is considered to be appropriate for animals, but not for humans. But if a suffering human has contemplated and is cognizant to make the decision to die, is it right to force them to continue to suffer against their will? Consider the case of Craig Ewert, a man diagnosed with rapidly progressing ALS. Ewert decided he wished to die sooner rather than after deteriorating into paralysis, causing more emotional and physical suffering for both himself and his family. For many who are terminally ill, having the option to decide when to die rather than suffer could save themselves and their families significant emotional trauma. From an economic perspective, although it seems rather callous, offering legal euthanasia/physician-assisted suicide services for the terminally ill would save money that would have been spent on medical bills that prolong life but do not cure the ailment, assuming that the terminally ill patient decides to pursue those services while still mentally sound and able to follow to procedures necessary for a physician-assisted suicide. In the case of Switzerland, the patient must be able to consume the drugs by his or herself; otherwise it may be considered a homicide.
"The counterargument stands that offering legal euthanasia/physician-assisted suicide services will lead down into a slippery slope and cause many legal complications. Who should be allowed access to these services, how much should they cost, what are the qualifications and circumstances that allow one to make this decision? Could euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide lead to a disregard for life, and how do we make sure that it does not turn into others deciding to euthanize an individual rather than the individual choosing their own time of death? With four US states already offering legal physician-assisted suicide services and numerous countries legalizing various forms of euthanasia/physician-assisted suicide, it is a dilemma that society will have to address in the near future."
Amy is a sophomore Political Science major from Crawfordsville, Indiana. She is Secretary of Model United Nations, Secretary of DePauw Student Government, a member of Delta Gamma, an Honor Scholar, and a tour guide. She plans to study abroad in Central Europe in Fall 2015. After graduation, she hopes to work in foreign policy.