In our society, doctors get a position of great respect and responsibility. However, they are not obligated to make the same sort of hard choices that people with far less pay, respect and responsibility are asked to make. Even more, doctors are not confronted with the awful realities of people who have no quality of life and simply want to get out of their suffering. Don't misunderstand me--I believe that people who have nothing physically wrong with them should be given psychological help and that suicide should be the last resort. However, there are millions of people who are not merely terminally ill, but who are in excruciating, debilitating pain that won't kill them, but will turn them into dependent vegetables, to put it bluntly. Such people shouldn't have to live like this, regardless of whether or not their respectively health issues are going to kill them or not. Doctors have all this power, prestige, money and social respect; shouldn't all these privileges come with some responsibility to their patients? And that responsibility should entail what is best for the patient, not what the doctor would prefer to do to the patient. If doctors have a problem with assisting a suicide, then that should be a non-issue--once doctors take on the power of their positions, it shouldn't be about their opinions anymore; everything should be about their patients, not about their own little moral codes. And if their patients are in an impossible situation physically (e.g. it is never going to get any better, and it can last years and years before death actually happens), doctors should be obligated to help such people end their lives comfortably and with dignity. If doctors have this power, they should have to deal with the consequential responsibility of such power--that is, their decisions should not hinge on their little moral codes; whatever they think is right or wrong should be a non-issue. If doctors have so many privileges, they should also have the duty, however unpleasant they many think it is, to help their patients do what has to be done to relieve as much suffering as possible. Why is it that doctors get to be protected from doing anything they find "unsavory" or whatever? Do you think the police personnel who have to shoot others in the course of doing their job get to choose? There are so many professions in which people involved in them have to do things they don't want to do--why should doctors be immune in this? Why should they be above this? It's not like anyone is asking any doctor to help him / her commit suicide on a whim--there are clear set conditions for such a proposal: the patient has to be in debilitating pain, unable to function adequately (and no, being confined to a bed with an IV is not functioning--it's being a vegetable). But under absolutely no condition should the patient have to have a terminal disease to be eligible for doctor assisted suicide--which is worse: having a terminal disease that will kill you anyway in a year, or being in excruciating pain from an illness that will never go away and you are looking at the next twenty years of your life in absolute misery from your body? I am absolutely outraged whenever I see "terminal illness" as the condition for which doctor assisted suicide would be permissible--there are conditions that are not terminal, but are debilitating, humiliating and deprive the victim from functioning like a human being. How can a doctor, living an ideal, cushy lifestyle, have the audacity to refuse a comfortable, stress free death to someone who will never function on an acceptable level? Such a refusal is obscene--it is analogous to someone who sits before a table decked with with all the rich foods in the universe, in a giant mansion, watching someone outside slowly die in the snow. But the person suffering from the elements, watching his / her extremities die, doesn't die--that person is going to be outside the window, in the long, long process of dying, for years and years. That person is going to scream for death and the fat doctor inside the house is going to turn a deaf ear to such a person based on... what? The doctor's so-called moral code? How can anyone set any doctor's dubious moral code against a person's intolerable suffering and agree with the doctor? The so-called Hippocratic Oath is irrelevant and should be changed--it's something doctors hide behind. Doctors think nothing of making deals with pharmaceuticals, of using patients as guinea pigs to push the pharmaceutical drugs (they're paid handsomely by pharmaceutical companies to push new drugs--remember Penny from The Big Bang Theory? Pharmaceuticals get attractive young people to go offer doctors unspecified research grants (they used to just bribe them, but then that got out to the public and was very unpopular, so now the bribe is disguised with the title "unspecified research grants") to push dangerous pharmaceutical drugs on their patients. Obviously, doctors don't care enough about their patients' well being to refuse to do things like this--unnecessary surgeries, harmful drugs, you name it--all in the name of making money. And doctors (at least 95% of them--that's the percentage that take "unspecified research grants" to push dangerous and absolutely unnecessary drugs that often kill patients (whereas the doctors have the options to try standard, tried and true drugs that have a much, much lower fatality / debilitation rate--which they don't use; they use the drugs they're being paid to push instead)--these doctors have the audacity to pretend to balk at assisting suicide for patients who have no quality of life and no prospect of dying anytime within the next ten years of misery? It is obscene, it is outrageous, that any doctor could refuse anyone who has suffered horribly for at least ten years, has no naturally occurring death in sight, and only wants to be relieved of another ten or more years of needless and unproductive suffering. If the group of people that call themselves doctors want the privilege of the title and its income bonuses, and take the bonuses offered by pharmaceuticals, then they should be obligated to also help people end their lives with some dignity. It should be part of their job, part of what they're trained to do and expected to do. How can we, as a society, tolerate a group of people who make more money and have more power than most of the population, but who don't have to get their hands dirty, so to speak? How can we let doctors be exempt from actually helping people, as opposed to allowing people to be reduced to vegetables, and then making money off of exploiting the said vegetables by keeping them alive? How? You tell me--how do you let doctors off the hook, so to speak, for this sort of abhorrent situation? How can you think of these people having short, nice days at the office, ten homes, cruises, blah blah blah, while they leave so many people to spend decades dying miserable deaths?
I would like to begin by saying thank you for this debate. I look forward to it and I strongly urge you to listen to my argument. However, I also urge you to reconsider your proposition. I thoroughly believe that doctor assisted suicide (I will refer to it as euthanasia as it is a more appropriate term) should be a viable option for terminally ill patients and patients who would be in crippling pain for the foreseeable future; in fact, it is an option already. However, doctors should not be responsible for assisting in this suicide. It poses many problems both morally and legally.
My first contention involves the morals of the situation. You were correct on saying doctors have nice things such as money, prestige, and social status. However, you were not correct in claiming they were “privileges.” If we take a look into the lives of doctor’s, we will notice how difficult it is. The average physician spends 8 years in very detailed study and 11-16 years total of medical training (1). At that point, the large salaries, prestige, and social recognition is earned. It is not a privilege. Physicians spend a great deal of time, money, and energy to develop the skills they need to save lives. Their rewards are certainly not privileges. Furthermore, your argument states that "if doctors have this power, they should have to deal with the consequential responsibility of such power--that is, their decisions should not hinge on their little moral codes; whatever they think is right or wrong should be a non-issue." Besides the fact that doctors have earned this power, these are not “little moral codes” either. In every culture to ever exist, human life has been the #1 priority. Many people are not alright with ending the lives of others, regardless of how or why they are doing it. A recent study found that 69% of physicians object to euthanasia, 18% to permanent sedation, and 5% to PAS (2). This is mainly due to religious and philosophical influences. This is made obvious by the same study. 84% of highly religious physicians are opposed to euthanasia (3). The majority of doctors, and people, are against killing people altogether. These are not "little moral codes." Euthanasia is defined as the act or practice of killing someone who is very sick or injured in order to prevent any more suffering" by Merriam Webster (4). Killing someone is something that an overwhelming majority of people feel is wrong. We cannot ask doctors to kill people. It is their job to heal, cure, and prevent disease and injury of their patients, not to end their patients lives.
Aside from morals, the legality of euthanasia could prove problematic. There is an oath that every doctor takes called the Hippocratic oath. This oaths specifically reads "I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody who asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect (5)." This means that a doctor may never give a patient a substance that will harm them, nor shall they suggest it. Oaths are legally binding, so doctors are obligated to not provide euthanasia. However, I see that you believe the Hippocratic Oath is "irrelevant and should be changed." I will take the time to remind you exactly what the oath does. It protects the patient, not the doctor. It prevents doctors from committing malpractice and experimentation on patients, it prevents them from having sexual relationships with patients and their families, and more. The Hippocratic Oath has saved so many lives and brought a form of perfection to medicine. It is entirely relevant and always will be. To think it needs changed ignores what doctors had done before the oath. They did experiments on people, harming them and disfiguring them, they accepted bribes to hurt people, and worse. The oath has been one of the most important events in medical history and it has allowed medicine to flourish. We cannot unsubscribe from it. Also, we must consider how this oath keeps people at the doctors. Hippocratic's Oath eeps trust in the medical system. Because of its importance and sheer practicality for protecting patients it keeps people comfortable seeing a physician. Without the Hippocratic Oath, there is little gauruntee that doctors wont commit malpractice. It should not be a responsibilty for doctors to provide this service.
I urge you to reconsider your view point. Euthanasia should be an option for the terminally ill and those who are in permanent pain, but it should NOT be a responsibility for doctors to assist in the death of their patients. It runs contrary to the sheer principle of medicine and being a doctor. Therefore, the only viable option is to decide that it is not the responsibilty of doctors to assist in suicide or preform euthanasia.
Thank you. Please vote in the negation of this proposal.