Assignment: Application Paper
The choice of assisted suicide
Ending one’s own life has been considered as immoral and unethical in almost all religion over the history. There is a huge literature over the history that has been discussing this issue from different ethical and non-ethical dimensions. It is still under debate to establish whether there is any circumstance that can allow one to end own life? For example of someone is suffering from cancer in last stages and there is no cure available for the disease. The individual is suffering from immense pain and wants to get rid of the pain and suffering. What is any other alternative than an assisted suicide with the help of a medical professional? In the following discussion would discuss the ethical and non-ethical issues related to the topic of assisted suicide.
First I would like to discuss the ethical issues related to assisted suicide. Those in favor of medically assisted suicide have two ethical points that they put forward. The first is the rights of the individual to take personal decisions that affect only them. They believe that each individual must have the power to take decisions about themselves even if it relates to choosing to end their life as it is a matter of self-determination. The second point they make is the ethical responsibilities of a medical professional to relieve any one of the pain and suffering. He medical professional must provide a patient with severe and incurable illness the help and assistance they need to end their life with dignity.
Those against the right to commit an assisted suicide provide counter arguments to the above two ethical standings that are provided by those in favor of it. First they say that ending one’s own life is not a fundamental right that can be exercised by an individual. They think that the sanctity of human life is more important than the right of self-determination. The second point they make is the duties of a medical professional who are bound to treat patients and do no harm.
There are some non-ethical issues also that are related to the discussion of the assisted suicide matter. The first is what law says about ending a life? In all other cases ending a life is considered a crime. What about ending one’s own life? Many believe that it is an equal crime to commit a suicide or assist a suicide. This is the duty of a state to provide life support to patients who need it. The withdrawal of life support is violating the duties of the state.
Another matter is the financial expenditure that is allocated to a person who has no chances of getting cured. If there is an opportunity to cure a curable person with the same resources that are allocated to an incurable person, what should be done? I have left these questions open to discussion as I do not have a point of view on them at present. I just wanted to raise them to illustrate my understanding of the nature of the matter.
Buddhist ethics and assisted suicide
The reason I chose to discuss the issue of assisted suicide in the light of ethical guidelines of the Buddhist philosophy is that the philosophy itself stresses on the relieving of the suffering of others. The three main principles of Buddhism focus on the provision of assistance in suffering. One of the ethical guidelines states that “provide immediate material aid which helps alleviate their suffering”. In my opinion this fits really well when we are talking about relieving the suffering of people suffering fatal illness. There are two possibilities in such situations. The first is that there is a fair chance that a cure is available to relieve the suffering. If such is the case then the medical professional and the patient himself should be bound to not choose the life ending option. But if there is not chance that there is any cure available then a decision to alleviate the suffering and pain could be an assisted suicide. If life itself becomes a suffering and pain then it is better to die with dignity. Having said that, I personally am not sure what I would do if I was the suffering person. I believe that this is such an important decision that it cannot be summed up in a document of this length.
Buddhism stresses on the creation of a just society. I think that if we have governments who are interested more in funding scientific research to find cure to incurable diseases instead of unjust and unnecessary wars, we could have less probability of patients and medical professionals who face the dilemma of choosing between life and death. The collective progress of a society which focuses on the delivery of fundamental rights to its citizens will have less ethical dilemmas. There would be more opportunities of alleviating the sufferings of those who are in pain.
After doing the exercise of writing this assignment I have come to a realization that ethics can sometimes be a guidelines to a prosperous society. But on the other hand when there are situations where one has an easy choice to suggest an ethical action vs a person who has to actually take the action, these ethical guidelines can be confusing. They might be less of a help. Like in the case of assisted suicide, for me and you it’s easy to suggest in the favor or against of it but for a medical professional who has to see the suffering on a daily basis and the patient who has to suffer the pain, it’s not so easy to cope with such situations.
I have always been against the idea of an assisted suicide but after going through this exercise, I have come to realize that my approach to the matter has been a simplistic one. This is a deeper issue that just having position about it. It needs a thorough debate and assessment to make decisions about even making a point of view about the issue of assisted suicide. The act of assisted suicide itself is much complicated for the medical practitioner and the patients.