The Instigator
Walking_Contradiction
Pro (for)
Losing
7 Points
The Contender
Flare_Corran
Con (against)
Winning
14 Points

Assisted Suicide Should Be Legalized.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/5/2009 Category: Health
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 3,803 times Debate No: 8122
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (2)
Votes (3)

 

Walking_Contradiction

Pro

First off I just want to clarify what assisted suicide means for my opponent.

"Assisted suicide occurs when a physician provides a patient with the means of ending his or her life—usually a prescription for a fatal dose of drugs. The patient takes the drugs independently of the doctor. This procedure differs from euthanasia, in which the doctor administers the fatal dose or performs some other act, such as a lethal injection, that ends the patient's life." (1)

That being said it is also illegal in every state within the U.S. besides Oregon and Washington. (2) I propose a change to this and make it legal in every state. Who are we to say a patient must suffer until his final breath is taken? We can condemn a man to a death sentence but we will not let him chose his own? If in fact the principals this country was founded on are still upheld today (which, in some perspectives it doesn't seem to be so) then we should have the free will to chose when enough is enough. Don't get me wrong I believe there should be some requirements put on it however I will go into farther detail once my opponent has a chance to make his argument.

I wish good luck to us both.

(1) http://socialissues.wiseto.com...
(2) http://www.lifesitenews.com...
Flare_Corran

Con

Good luck to you as well.

Assisted suicide is an extremely delicate issue. On one side, there is the argument that my opponent has put forward, saying that a person should be allowed to choose when they die, in other words, that it is an issue of freedom. However, I propose that it is instead an issue of curing those who suffer, rather than simply allowing them to kill themselves.

This belief is based on three concepts.

First is the concept that one of the rules a physician should follow is "Primum non nocere" (First, not to harm). (http://en.wikipedia.org...). A doctor is morally and ethically obligated to do his best to help his patient, even if it goes against the patient's wishes. By intentionally giving a person (patient is not really the correct term when the doctor is helping them kill themselves) drugs for the sole purpose of ending that person's life is a violation of the doctor's integrity.

Second, suicide is a symptom of mental illness. Over 90% of those who commit suicide have a psychiatric diagnosis at the time of death (World Psychiatric Association http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov...).

The desire to commit suicide could actually be considered a mental disorder in and of itself, as it displays a violation of the survival instinct.

These people need help to fight their problems, not help to kill themselves. If it was legal for a physician to help people commit suicide, people who were contemplating it would be more likely to follow through, since the drugs would be quick and painless, as opposed to other methods a person might use.

Finally, suicide has many inherent ethical issues. Augustine pointed out in The City of God (I believe, I can't find my copy of it, so it may be in Confessions) that when someone kills themselves, they are committing murder. Specifically, he refers to a woman idolized in Roman tradition who had been raped, then committed suicide because she couldn't live with the shame. Everyone referred to her as innocent. However, Augustine raised the point that she had therefore killed an innocent woman. Intentionally killing an innocent person is, by definition, murder.

Therefore, suicide is not a freedom, but rather a crime or a symptom of illness. As such, it is a doctor's duty to prevent suicide, rather than assisting it. If anything, we should strengthen the penalties for physician assisted suicide, rather than removing them.
Debate Round No. 1
Walking_Contradiction

Pro

I acknowledge the ethical dilemmas presented in legalizing assisted suicide however I have another idea in mind. I think that, to remove all legal liabilities, a doctor and patient should be mandated to sign a contract agreeing that this is what they both feel is correct. The patient, or person if you rather, then should have a full psychological work up done to make sure they are not mentally ill. Following that they should have another qualified physician/high up personal if you will make sure that it is in fact a final resort. This should therefore bypass the doctors' ethical obligations and also free the hospital/doctor from any future legal problems.

Secondly I completely agree with your second argument. In many cases it is just a simple mental illness that causes people to kill themselves however I believe my first point (above) would also take care of that. By mandating that patients have a psychological work up, one: that may scare some "posers" so to speak, out of going through all trouble to die and two: people who end up being deemed with whatever mental illness can get the proper help they need.

Just to clarify though I do not believe just any person should be allowed to kill themselves with the aid of a doctor. I'm more referring to patients terminally ill that doctors say will be dead in a couple months or so.

Lastly, you mentioned Augustine raised the point that she "had therefore killed an innocent woman." His accusations however were based off of the public opinion of her being innocent and not a judicial stand point or even her own. And if in fact we looked at suicide as murder then how would we prosecute the "offender"? In the case the murderer and the victim are one in the same so does it really matter? And for all we know she, or any person who has committed suicide, might not be so innocent. Just because the woman raped, as you mentioned, couldn't deal with the shame and thus killed herself; how do we know she was really that innocent? Perhaps she committed a crime earlier in life or wasn't an upstanding person at all. It's hard to tell who is innocent and not when the only person who knows all that they have done in life is the person that is dead.

I then believe that, with the right regulations, assisted suicide should be legalized.
Flare_Corran

Con

First, you have significantly altered the debate with your statement that you are "referring to terminally ill patients that doctors say will be dead in a couple months or so." That was not mentioned in your opening statement.
However, I believe that all of my arguments still stand because it is not impossible for a cure to be discovered in that couple of months, or for the disease to go into remission, or even for a miracle to happen (even if you don't believe in God, quantum uncertainty and the laws of probabilities make it possible).

I disagree with your statement that a contract and further tests would "bypass the doctors' ethical obligations." If physician assisted suicide was legalized, it would solve the LEGAL problems, but it would do nothing for the ethical issues. I still hold that a doctor knowingly allowing a person to kill themselves is a breach of ethics under nearly any circumstances. (there are exceptions such as warfare, but none that are relevant to this debate).

In completely agreeing with my second argument, are you also agreeing to the part that says "The desire to commit suicide could actually be considered a mental disorder in and of itself, as it displays a violation of the survival instinct." ?

Augustine's point stands regardless of actual innocence. It is just as illegal for me to walk up and shoot a terrorist in broad daylight as it is for me to do the same to a child. This argument is based more in philosophy than in enforcement. Obviously, I am not arguing that there should be a penalty for committing suicide, but rather that it is wrong to do so. It is therefore wrong to help someone do so.
Debate Round No. 2
Walking_Contradiction

Pro

I apologize for not clarifying, I shouldn't have assumed it was implied.

Maybe it is not impossible for a cure to be found however if a patient has made up their mind to go, can we be forced to stop them? Perhaps we keep them alive for a little while longer but their mental thoughts of still wanting to die may never change. There is also the aspect that for some terminally ill and/or mentally ill patients that their minds and/or body start to deteriorate. Some people want to die with what dignity they have left, i.e. they want their loved ones to remember when they were active---not when, say, they were in a bed soiling themselves.

Perhaps you're correct that it would not suddenly make the ethical issues 'okay' but I think they could be overlooked. Yes a doctor is sworn to protect and help the patient however if the alternative to death is living X amount of time in excruciating pain---wouldn't they be helping their patient by putting them out of their misery? If you look at the lesser of the two evils then technically their is no breach of morals if they're still doing what is in the best interest of the patient.

As for your second statement I was more referring to the, "suicide is a symptom of mental illness. Over 90% of those who commit suicide have a psychiatric diagnosis at the time of death" part. But acknowledging your other statement, yes it goes against natural instincts but then again plenty of us do things that go against our natural instincts. (for example, a mother giving up her child as woman are born with that maternal instinct) It cannot just be limited to suicide. I don't think that is grounds for a mental illness though. As you said before, it is a symptom of a mental illness but not one itself. I believe, if assisted suicide was legalized, my 'regulations' (full psych work ups) I proposed would weed out the difference between maybe depression caused suicide and just plain ready to die suicide. If the mind has logically--with no contributing forces--decided its ready to go than that decision should be allowed to the patient. And, again, it could possibly end up saving lives by correctly identifying people who are depressed and getting them help.

I'm sorry I misunderstood your point there. Why is it wrong to end your own life when it causes no physical harm to anyone else? Yes it is illegal for you to walk up and shoot a terrorist the same as a child however that's also causing harm to someone else not yourself. If you're implying it is morally wrong to do so then perhaps it is however if you're not hurting anyone else in your actions then I see no harm no foul.
Flare_Corran

Con

"Perhaps you're correct that it would not suddenly make the ethical issues 'okay' but I think they could be overlooked"

Overlooking ethical issues is a dangerous road. A very dangerous road.

Killing someone is never in their best interest.

"If the mind has logically--with no contributing forces--decided its ready to go than that decision should be allowed to the patient."

The mind is incapable of deciding anything without contributing forces. I would also argue that depression is inherent in suicide. The person has decided that they would rather die than live. How could that be other than depression?
Also, could you explain what you mean by a mother giving up her child? A mother giving up her child for adoption actually exemplifies the maternal instinct, as it is a decision that the child would be happier somewhere else and then putting the child's happiness above the mother's.

I am arguing that it is morally wrong to commit suicide. I am then extending that argument to say that it is wrong to help someone do something that is morally wrong. Therefore, it is morally wrong to help someone commit suicide.

Also, to say that you are not hurting anyone else in your actions is simply not true. The devastation that a suicide leaves behind makes it obvious that, yes, you are hurting other people.
Debate Round No. 3
Walking_Contradiction

Pro

Walking_Contradiction forfeited this round.
Flare_Corran

Con

I would like to reinforce my statements that for a doctor to kill someone or help them kill themselves, they must go against ethical guidelines, killing someone is never in their best interest, and that a desire to commit suicide is a sign of mental illness.

Assisted Suicide is immoral, unethical, and should remain illegal.
Debate Round No. 4
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by ninjaraygun 7 years ago
ninjaraygun
i really like pro's picture.
Posted by Bnesiba 7 years ago
Bnesiba
i don't want to help anyone here but...

Cruzan v. Director, Missouri Department of Health (isn't not taking medical action similar to assisting death? case set precedent for DNR)
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by Gabby042 7 years ago
Gabby042
Walking_ContradictionFlare_CorranTied
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Vote Placed by ninjaraygun 7 years ago
ninjaraygun
Walking_ContradictionFlare_CorranTied
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Vote Placed by Lazy 7 years ago
Lazy
Walking_ContradictionFlare_CorranTied
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