Physician-assisted suicide presents one of the greatest dilemmas tothe medical profession. Should someone who ismentally competent, but deemed terminally ill, be allowed to engagein physician-assisted suicide? According to theFirst Amendment of The Constitution of The United States, “one hasthe freedom to petition the government for aredress of grievances.“ The Fourteenth Amendment states, “The Statecannot deprive any person of life, liberty orproperty, without due process of law; nor deny any person within itsjurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
“ Thegroup believes that a terminally ill patient has the Constitutionalright to decide whether or not to end his or her life withthe help of a licensed medical doctor. There have been many cases overthe years where a terminally ill patient who ismentally competent has made the choice to either partake in physician-assistedsuicide or euthanasia.“Physician-assisted suicide occurs when the physician provides thepatient with the means and/or knowledge tocommit suicide”(Death and Dying,91). “Euthanasia is when the physicianadministers the death causing drug oragent”(Death and Dying,92). The most recent case is that of The Stateof Florida v. Charles Hall. “Charles Hall isdying of AIDS and challenged the State of Florida to let him die bya self-administered lethal injection without fear ofprosecution”(http://www.rights.
org/ deathnet/open.html). On January31, 1997, a Judge ruled that Charles Hall couldtake his own life with the aid of a doctor. Senior Judge S. JosephDavis, brought in from Seminole County, “found thatFlorida’s strict privacy law and the equal protection clause in theU.
S. Constitution entitled Hall, 35, and Dr. McIverto carry out an assisted death without fear of prosecution” (Sun-Sentinel,1A). On February 11, 1997, Charles Hall’sruling was overturned by the Florida Supreme Court: he no longer hasthe right to end his own life. He will have towait until May 9, 1997 until new arguments will be heard.
Hall, whohas been deemed mentally competent, contractedthe virus in 1981 through a blood transfusion. “Some of the complicationshe is encountering from the AIDS virus arearthritis, hepatitis, pneumonia and a brain cyst” (http://www.rights.org/deathnet/open.html). The Oregon Death withDignity Act allows terminally ill adults who are mentally competentto ask for a prescription for medication “for thepurpose of ending his or her life in a humane and dignified manner”(http://www.rights.
org/deathnet/open.html). Thisact, “Measure 16,” was approved by the voters in 1994.
“Renewed effortsat the Legislative level to overturn“Measure 16” may now be anticipated to prevent the law from being used”(http://www.rights.org/deathnet/open.html). In June, 1990, the Supreme Court decided that the parents of32 year old Nancy Beth Cruzan, who had beenin a car accident and in what Doctor’s called a vegetative state forseven years, could not end her treatment. Later thatsame year, a Missouri Court ruled that the feeding tube could be removedafter evidence that Cruzan would wish toterminate the treatment was proven.
“Nancy Beth Cruzan died twelvedays later”(Death and Dying,26).The First Amendment gives one the right to demand the correction ofan injustice. Would one not consider a terminalillness an injustice? Charles Hall contracted this deadly disease froma blood transfusion not from shooting drugs orhaving unprotected sex. So wouldn’t Hall be entitled to have this injusticecorrected? The Fourteenth Amendmentgives one the right to life, liberty, or property, without due processof law.
However, is living with complications froma terminal illness, so severe that one is unable to function independently,life? The government says that it is. Liberty isfreedom, but is having complications which do not allow one to be freeand independent, freedom? The governmentsays once again that it is. Freedom is also having the ability to makechoices. These choices should include the abilityto decide to end one’s own life when such complications exist. In conclusion,evidence has shown that the First andFourteenth Amendment of the Constitution entitles citizens of the UnitedStates of America the right to die.
Thegovernment was setup to govern, not to rule with absolute power. Ifthe people were to keep silent about what theybelieve in, our government would not exist as the system that it istoday. Our democracy was created because ofthose brave souls who fought for their rights, and we should followin their footsteps. If everyone would voice thereopinion in favor for the right to die, the government would have toattend to the peoples’ wishes.Bibliography: