The Instigator
Pro (for)
9 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
5 Points

Oregon's Death By Dignity Law.

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/21/2012 Category: Health
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 10,051 times Debate No: 23749
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (8)
Votes (3)




Just looking for someone to debate Euthanism and the Death with Dignity Act passed in Oregon. I am looking for a 4 speech, organized debate in which the first speech will be a constructive speech outlining your contentions and points, the next two will be rebuttals and the final speech a conclusive speech, no new points may be brought up in these conclusive speeches or the second rebuttal. Since I haven't brought in any points in this post, please limit your first post to one accepting this debate.
Thank You (:
Looking forward to debating you!


I accept the debate, and shall be playing devil's advocate in this situation. However, I hope to still put forth a compelling case against Euthanasia. As CON, I shall wait for my opponent to post their argument before posting my own as a response. In the (unlikely) case that my opponent does not post an argument, this should be viewed as a concession by PRO for not fulfilling their burden of proof.
Debate Round No. 1


First off, I would like to start this debate by defining a few key terms. Oregon's Death by Dignity law gives a terminally ill oregonian the right to end their life through the voluntary self administration of lethal medications, expressly prescribed by a physician for that purpose. Also, the inalienable rights outlined by the US Declaration of Independence as the right to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.
Argument 1: Oregon's death by Dignity Law re-inforces the inalienable rights of life and liberty granted to every human.

The Declaration of Independence reports for us, our right to life and liberty. These rights allow us the liberty to determine for ourselves how our life should be lived, to what quality it will be lived, and how long it should be lived. If asked, I doubt that any of us would ever agree to forfeit these rights to the government, although by opposing this "death by dignity act" forfeiting it is exactly what you are agreeing to do. The death by dignity act applies to terminally ill patients who request this "assisted suicide" option as an alternative to either living a low-quality life, or simply committing suicide. The "death by dignity act" gives the patient access to an death with dignity. It is not forced of patients, and once the patient requests this option the choice of following that path is also left to the patient, allowing them to turn back at any time. So, taking away the right for the patient to die with dignity and on their own terms, is a clear violation of these invaluable rights to life and liberty. As said in [ ACLU Amicus Brief in Vacco v. Quill
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU),Dec. 10, 1996] "The right of a competent, terminally ill person to avoid excruciating pain and embrace a timely and dignified death bears the sanction of history and is implicit in the concept of ordered liberty. Thereby, this law and the idea of Assisted Suicide, support these inalienable rights, and should be protected by the government as oregon is doing, for if we support the execution of these rights in every other situation, there is no reason why those rights should end at the right to die a peaceful death.

Argument 2: Oregon's Death by Dignity Law gives patients a safer and more dignified option to ending their suffering.

The right of terminally ill patients to refuse their life preserving treatments exists, knowing that the refusal of these medicines will lead to death. If this is legal, then there is no logical reason as to why assisted suicide shouldn't be allowed, and left as a right for those who aren't willing to go through the pain of months of suffering. A study, [Emanuel, E.J., et al. "Euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide: Attitudes and expereiences of onocology patients, oncologists, and the public." Lancet 347.9018 (2006), 1805-10.] reported that 75% of the population they interviewed, including a large proportion of cancer patients reported that the severe and constant pain made the idea of suicide tolerable. By legalizing assisted suicide, and through this law, we are giving them a more dignified way to end their suffering, (a right that every person should have) without having to take extensive gruesome measures while being allowed a peaceful death.

Argument 3: Oregon's Death by Dignity Law, and Assisted suicide promote the other inalienable right to pursue happiness.
As John Mill said, "Actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness; wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness. By happiness is intended pleasure and the absence of pain." This quote narrates the sentiment that the right course of happiness is one that causes the most happiness and prevents the most pain. We pride ourselves on the freedoms we as a people grant ourselves, such as the freedom of pursuit of happiness, but what is happiness for someone with a terminal condition who is being forced to live through the pain because the same government that allows other freedoms denies this one? Thereby, Assisted Suicide and Oregon's Death By Dignity Act, are doing justice, by promoting happiness and ending pain in the patients.
Assisted Suicide, and the Oregon Law isn't offered/ doesn't apply to simply anyone. Only those who are severely sick with terminal illnesses and have no hope of recuperating are granted this option, and of them, only those in deep suffering choose this option (about 2.25% in oregon in 2011). Therefore, assisted suicide and the Oregon Act, aren't social hazards, but rather the opening of a dignified opportunity to those who really need it. As Faye Girsh, -- Faye Girsh, EdD [Senior Adviser, Final Exit Network,"How Shall We Die," Free Inquiry,Winter 2001] said "...people who are looking end their lives which have lost all quality should enjoy a right guaranteed in the European Declaration of Human Rights -- the right not to be forced to suffer." We are granted protection from cruel and unusual punishments, from unwarranted search and seizures; it's unjustifiable why we shouldn't be granted the right to not be forced to suffer.

Argument 4: Government shouldn't be granted the right to involve in end-of-life matters.

"We'll all die. But in an age of increased longevity and medical advances, death can be suspended, sometimes indefinitely, and no longer slips in according to its own immutable timetable.
So, for both patients and their loved ones, real decisions are demanded: When do we stop doing all that we can do? When do we withhold which therapies and allow nature to take its course? When are we, through our own indecision and fears of mortality, allowing wondrous medical methods to perversely prolong the dying rather than the living?
These intensely personal and socially expensive decisions should not be left to governments, judges or legislators..." [Los Angeles Times, "Planning for Worse Than Taxes," Opinion, Mar. 22, 2005] This explains this argument perfectly. The government has no role in end-of-life matters such as these. As stated in my first argument, the government's duty is to uphold our rights, our right to choose our method and time of death (life and liberty), our right to pursuit of happiness, and has no place determining these things FOR us.

Faye Girsh, Faye Girsh, EdD [Senior Adviser, Final Exit Network,"How Shall We Die," Free Inquiry, Winter 2001] said, "It should be considered as much of a crime to make someone live who with justification does not wish to continue as it is to take life without consent."

Before one argues that killing people is not the duty of doctors, one should first question, is it their duty to prolong life to the point where life has no quality, or to the point where living is a burden to the patient in question? Is it moral to force a person to live who, with justification, doesn't wish to continue it? Allowing Assisted Suicide does not mean that every terminally ill person is forced to take this option, and it never will. It does not mean that a doctor "assists" them after a moments notice. There are precaustions taken, a fifteen day reconsideration period to prevent on the whim decisions. The patient in the end is allowed the right to turn back from the process at any time, and in the end it is the patient who voluntarily takes the pills. All assisted suicide means, is the right to end your own suffering, peacefully, and with dignity. Thereby, I urge you all to vote pro; to grant this right to suffering patients.


Once going through my opponent's debate, and seeing the references to John Stuart Mill, and the respect for autonomy. This underpinning of the argument exists in both the first and third argument, where it is stated the right to liberty, used equivalently to a respect for autonomy. The third argument is clearly utilitarian, going as far to quote Mill's most famous statement of what Utilitarians believe. Thus, I shall question this underpinning predicate, and instead put forth the more rationally justified Kantian ethics as a solution. Indeed, this ethical theory holds many times more respect for human autonomy and human life: the argument necessarily respects autonomy.

The foundations

As my opponent has not done so, I wish to present what euthanasia is. (Due to word limit, and this being a backdrop to what euthanasia is, the information can be found here

Kantian Ethics and Euthanasia

Kantian Ethics originated from Immanuel Kant, a famous Prussian philosopher. His ethics were known as being a Copernican Revolution due to the level of rational thought that went into their construction. Skipping many of the details - observable in A Foundation for the metaphysics of morals - He creates the theory based on a duty to respect autonomy: autonomy being freedom and reason together. As we are all moral autonomous agents, we all have a duty to be moral autonomous agents. Further, nothing is good except a good will - that is, an act is good only when it has good intentions. However, this does not yet help us know what good is. Hence, Kant delivered the Categorical Imperative, which is "doing duty for duty's sake". Though this seems simply like moving the goalposts, Kant came to a much stronger definition of what our duty is. Duty is in line with the three moral maxims: that is, unviersalisation of actions, using people as ends only, and never a means. From this, we can interpret the third maxim: work towards a kingdom of ends.

Of course, this has not helped us yet: we must apply Kantian ethics. Let us go to what the Oregan Law states: in short, it claims that "If I am in a terrible condition, I have the right to kill myself, or (more importantly) give that right to another doctor or person)". But this would be open to abuse: we know for a fact that many will abuse this, and simply make the person die (or possibly keep living) for their own interest: they'd use the person as a means to an end. This is, of course, breaking the second maxim and, therefore, unacceptable to be a moral maxim.

In fact, there is no moral maxim that allows euthanasia. Kantian ethics holds that if one commits euthanasia because one believes that the remainder of one’s life will be filled with more discomfort than pleasure, then one fails to treat oneself as an end. As long as you retain the capacities that makes you a person, then you have dignity and one ought to respect this dignity. Kantians agree that the point of life is the exercise of one’s personhood capacities in moral deliberation and choice. When one stops being able to be autonomous, one stops being a person. Thus, the death by dignity law, or any law, no longer needs to apply, as one stops being a self-conscious, rational person.

If humanity is an end, no man has the right to take his life, even in whatever condition he finds himself. We must always act in a way which does not disrespect our fellow human man. It's disastrous if we act in such way as dehumanizing sourselves through euthanasia. I urge a vote CON, a vote for the respect of human life, and a vote for the respect of human autonomy. Thank you.
Debate Round No. 2


I applaud my opponent on accurately defining Kantian Ethics, however he has failed to precisely explain why we must reject Euthanasia. He has vaguely mentioned that we all have a duty to be "moral autonomous agents", while advocating the repeal of the right to end one's own life-an action not supporting our duty to be "autonomous agents" if we define autonomous as self-governing and self-ruling. He also hasn't addressed my argument resisting government involvement in these affairs.

Before further refuting his argument, I would like to redefine the Oregon Death By Dignity Law, not as one that "claims that "If I am in a terrible condition, I have the right to kill myself, or (more importantly) give that right to another doctor or person)"". But rather as one the allows a person, who is in a terrible condition, to seek peaceful death as a viable option. This right to kill oneself is not given to a doctor or any other person. As I stated in my definition of the Oregon Death by dignity Law, the life is ended through the voluntary SELF administration of the drugs. I would like to remind my opponent that we are debating the Oregon death by Dignity Law, not general Euthanasia. Given my definition of the Oregon Death by Dignity Law, it is not then open to abuse. As the right to end the life is still left up to the patient himself, the doctor or family members are not given the opportunity to force death upon someone. Forcing life upon them for our own conscience is what my opponent is advocating, something he has yet to refute.

If the ultimate rule to righteousness and justice is to treat every human as an end, forcing life upon them in order to pacify our own conscience is not treating them as an ends, but rather using them as a means to justify ourselves. In order to truly consider each person as an ends, we must look upon each person and their life separately. If we are to treat ourselves as an ends, we must consider our life as a whole, and if our goal is to live a happy life, then we have the right to terminate our life as long as terminating our life leads to that end or goal that we have mentioned afore.

Essentially, the difference between Kantian Ethics, and Utilitarianism is that kantian Ethics focus on your drive, and Utilitarianism on the result. For a matter such as Assisted Suicide, the drive behind it will vary from person to person, so applying Kantian Ethics does not completely appropriate, although the general case according to Oregon records is that the agreement is signed by patients who claimed that their reasons were that the pain was too much to bear, and so we can assume that the Assisted Suicide law is being used largely to reduce pain to a zero, a cause that no moral maxim will disagree with. Especially, Mill's Ethics which say implicitly that any action that promotes pleasure and prevents pain is just. This is essentially the purpose of Assisted Suicide.

Our laws should, and are, for the most part, centered around Mill's theory. Increasing living pleasures and decreasing pain and suffering has been the objective of medicine, industry, and everything else since the beginning of time. If one has a smashed arm, we amputate it in order to lessen pain and increase pleasure. For those of us whose pain isn't relievable in such ways, it is only logical that we give another method. With the passage of this act we do not mandate it for all patients in their situation, we are simply offering it to them.

Suicide is legal in all 50 states, as of today, for anyone, sick or healthy or mentally retarded. Why then is it illegal for a legally monitored physician to give a pill to a sick and dying patient to help speed up their decline into death? To help make their suicide a fast and painless one?

The argument against assisted suicide is full of hypocrisies. One argues against letting a human have the right to take their own life, while arguing about human autonomy and the value of humans. They argue against assisted suicide by theorizing situations of abuse where patients are forced to die, while arguing for a situation where they are forced to live. They argue the injustice of a physician providing assisted suicide pills, in a world where suicide is legal. They argue justice while justifying the forcing of a person to live in pain.

I urge a vote PRO, for true autonomy and a true choice. For true respect of human life, and respect for people's own judgement.


I fought the law

I'd like to make reference to this quickly before anything. I'm going to define the law using the actual law as reference[1]: "An adult who is capable, is a resident of Oregon, and has been determined by the attending physician and consulting physician to be suffering from a terminal disease, and who has voluntarily expressed his or her wish to die, may make a written request for medication for the purpose of ending his or her life...". This is clearly an example of physician-assisted euthanasia. My opponent's definition, though somewhat accurate, is not the exact definition of what the law is. The law is much more closely related to physician-led euthanasia, rather than assisted suicide.

Use the force, luke

My opponent claims that I am forcing life upon people: rather, I am stating that people would not, under rational and free conditions, choose death over life. Kobler-Ross, the founder of the study of the terminably ill, created the Kobler Ross model, and other studies to learn more about the issues one has to cope with, if you have a terminal disease. These gave great insight to what someone goes through when they want to kill themselves. What it imparted what simple: that "None of [Kobler-Ross]'s patients request euthanasia. Given personal attention and the right medication, she says, people come to accept their deaths and die peacefully without pain"[2]. Rational people do not choose death, as we well know. My opponent, I am sure, would not desire that we kill people who just line up and say "yes please!" That's because we know that death is contrary to life: something we inherently want to promote and protect.

And we want to do this in all cases: we do not enthusiastically go forth trying to kill people, because we know that death is a terrible thing. When we have the alternative to life, and, as Kobler-Ross has shown, a pleasurable one.

Utilitarianism, Kant, Euthanasia

Even in a Utilitarian model, though, euthanasia should be restricted moreso than this law states. The most prominent Utilitarian in the compilation of the theory is Henry Sidgwick, who states that "only conscious (i.e., intelligent) beings can appreciate values and meanings. So, life is significant to conscious, intelligent, though finite, beings - because it is a part of some eternal goal, plan, process, thing, design, or being. [Euthanasia] flies in the face of Sidgwick's dictum. It is a statement by an intelligent and conscious being about the meaninglessness of life."[3] How can a dead man appreciate values and meanings of being released from pain? It makes no sense.

But following from the possibility that reduction of pain is what is important here: we have the problem of the pinprick argument. As my opponent is stating we should allow them to commit euthanasia to reduce the pain and not increase the pleasure, then the goal is simple: end all suffering. What's the easiest way to end all suffering? Kill all life! Without anyone to feel pain, and if we do it painlessly, then pain is infinitely at zero. The ludicrosity of this statement is obvious: we should go against Utilitarianism in practice, due to the conclusion it gives to end all life.

The argument against euthanasia is simple: Humans, when acting autonomously (free and rational) don't wish to die. Humans who wish to die are, by necessity if we accept the previous premise, acting either unfree or irrationally. Thus, by respecting autonomy, we should make sure we help our fellow man live.

We should not impose Utilitarianism, as it is treating people as a means to an end: we use ourselvse as a means to the end of lowering pain, or increasing pleasure: not to any moral good. We should be against euthanasia, though: we should not let people commit euthanasia as it is breaing the second moral maxim, it is treating people as a means to an end.

Of course, my opponent has put forth a new moral maxim as well: the respect for autonomy, that is, "we should allow people to make their own decisions for themselves". However, this has intrinsic flaws, as we can see examples where this is wrong, for example, random killing is someone's own decision, but they still should not be allowed to do so! We need to reform it to Mill's addendum, that is, "the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others". But we see internal problems arise: for example, we see it as irrational that one should cut themselves over a relationship breaking up. Or irrational people would commit suicide or euthanasia due to school bullying. In short, we know inherently that the principle of respect for autonomy does not work as a moral maxim.

What does work? It is simple, we start removing the points that cannot be universalised, start removing the points that cannot be objectified. We would remove the point that states we base it on pleasure/pain, as the pinprick argument, where we should kill all life, is intuitively repulsive. We would remove the idea of the maxim for respect of self-sovereignty, as we see inherent times where the law can be broken, such as doing meth, or cutting oneself. We can, however, retain a promotion of autonomy: that is, free rational expression, as we know that rational people would do the right thing. For example, a theif will (and by definition has) stolen, but if they were in a rational, uncoerced state of mind, they would admit that stealing is wrong. This definition of promoting human autonomy is our moral maxim: "we should promote human autonomy". The death of people reduce and sacrifice human autonomy. Thus, the killing of others should be universally minimised. This, again, leads us to a rejection of the Death by Dignity law, which promotes euthanasia: the killing of others.

Finally, I wish to make the following statements about other laws. Firstly, suicide is legal because punishing it is pretty damn hard. If they succeed, then they're dead, so you can't really punish them. If they are alive, then they haven't killed themselves, so they haven't committed suicide, so there is a real lack of grounds to convict someone for suicide. However, in most nations, if one commits grevious self harm, then they are put into a psychiactric institute. The law itself would be more in line with Kantian promotion of rationality, than the Utilitarian promotion of sovereignty, due to the simple fact that irrational people do not have the civil liberties, nor should they, of others. For example, a dog does not have rights. Though it is sovereign, it is not rational, so it does not have the same civil liberties. This is straight forwards. To put it simply: the law promotes Kantian Ethics, not Utilitarian.

Quickly, regarding the state, the state's role is arguably to promote the pursuit of happiness. We cannot be happy by being dead. It may be to promote our own personal choice. I state those who prefer death to life should receive mental psychiactric help, not simply written off and allowed to die. The state should help those who wish to die. The way to do this is to help, not kill.

To summarise, the law promotes Kantian Ethics, which is against euthanasia. We personally are inherently promoting Kantian Ethics over Utilitarianism, which puts us against euthanasia. Utilitarianism itself promotes euthanasia: Kobler-Ross' studies show that pleasure can be increased among terminally ill patients to the extent that it is better to criminalise euthanasia, but instead have better health services. Finally, Kantian ethics, a superior moral stance, works with the law. For these reasons, I urge a vote CON.

1 -
2 - Practical Ethics, p197
3 -;
4 -;
(note - Kobler-Ross is spelt differently to how it should, due to lack of the correct symbol for the "o" to a ":u".
Debate Round No. 3


aristotles-beard forfeited this round.


Extend all arguments.
Debate Round No. 4


First off, I would like to apologize for forfeiting the last round. I was in Chicago and things went awry, as my service project took longer than anticipated and my grandmother got terribly ill which wasn’t anticipated at all. As a result, I have treated this speech as one from Round 4, and have brought in new points and refuted my opponents previous points. I invite him to use his conclusion speech as one to refute mine and bring in new points if he so desires.

Clarifying the Clarification

Although the two are ethically indistinguishable, this law isn't euthanasia because the patient themselves administer the treatment. "Euthanasia is a different procedure for hastening death. In euthanasia, a doctor injects a patient with a lethal dosage of medication. In the Act, a physician prescribes a lethal dose of medication to a patient, but the patient - not the doctor - administers the medication. Euthanasia is illegal in every state in the US, including Oregon. The Act has been legal in Oregon since November 1997."[2]

A quick story, with a valuable message.

Matthew Donnelly loved life. For the past thirty years, Matthew had conducted research on the use of X-rays. Now, skin cancer riddled his tortured body. He had lost his nose, his left hand, two fingers on his right hand, and part of his jaw. He was left blind and was slowly deteriorating. The pain was unrelenting. Doctors estimated that he had a year to live. Lying in bed with teeth clenched from the excruciating pain, he pleaded to be put out of his misery. Matthew wanted to die now. His pleas went unanswered. [3]
It is easy for my opponent to argue Euthanasia using examples of depressed terminally ill patients who aren't suffering all that much, but when determining the righteosness of an action we must take into all that it will affect, and remember thhat by making assisted suicide illegal, we are takng that right away from the 5% of the population that suffer from diseases whose pain cannot be suffieciently cured by medication. [4]

Death With Dignity Patients aren’t choosing between Life and Death.

First off, I would like to make note of the fact that the patients requesting Death With Dignity, are not, infact, choosing between death and life. Under Oregon Law, a terminal illness is an “incurable and irreversible disease that has been medically confirmed...[to]produce death within six months” [5] In other words, The patient's primary objective is not to end an otherwise open-ended span of life but to find dignity in an already impending exit from this world, and find a less painful way out. One cannot argue that Matthew Donnelly and his wish to die was irrational. Using the words of my opponent’s philosopher , Kant, “ To help others where one can is a duty...without any further motive of vanity or self intrest”. When they cannot be helped through medication, and a painful death is impending, it cannot be reasonably argued that we prolong the death, and lengthen a life of suffering against the patients will.

Death with Dignity patients aren't Irrational or mentally unstable.

The majority of patients choosing death with dignity, are not clinically depressed.[6] Furthermore, Statistics show that “even many of the law's opponents admit the most aggressive pain management measures fail to alleviate the suffering of 5% of terminally-ill patients,” [4]. One cannot argue that death with dignity is an unreasonable choice for those those 5%. Given a life of less that 6 months filled with such suffering and no alleviation, or a quick dignified hastened death, a reasonable human who isn’t a masochist would be favorable towards Death with dignity. Furthermore in a practical sense, in order to be eligibe for DWD, you must be determined by a psychologist to be mentally stable and capable and having no judgement impairing factors. [7].

Dead Man can’t appreciate physician assisted suicide, but a live one can.

Indeed, a dead man can't appreciate the alleviation from suffering, but the living, suffering man can. This man can appreciate the release from a life filled with pain. Just as a person stuck in a cast gets hope from the thought of getting his cast off, or someone with braces counting down the months to getting it off, or someone held hostage and being tortured longs to be rescued, allowing Death with Dignity or Physician assisted suicide, allows the patient another option and gives them hope. Spending the last few months of one’s life in deep suffering MAY seem like a reasonable option to my opponent, but 75% of all interviewed realized the pain involved in that and recognized the value in giving the patients an option besides living their pain out.

PinPrick Argument.

Mill’s theory of pleasure over pain, does not infer that we cure every pain with death. A young boy with a broken arm has a long life ahead of him and so death would only cause him pain. His pain can be cured by simple medications, a couple of ibuprofens after getting his cast on. The patients we are talking about do not have a long life ahead of them, they have merely six months, and furthermore if they are inflicted with a disease such as bone cancer, pancreatic cancer or lung disease it causes intolerable pain and suffering that cannot be managed. Offering these people Assisted Suicide, would not be unjust seeing as they are not ending an open ended life, and because the pain they are freeing themselves from is greater than the pleasure they are avoiding. In this example we can see how the pleasure versus pain argument does work if applied correctly.


Kant, my opponent's philosopher, says, “To help others where one can is a duty...” If they cannot be helped by medicine, then it is our job to help end their suffering. Competent, terminally ill patients are allowed to hasten death by treatment refusal. For some patients, treatment refusal will not suffice to hasten death, so their only option is suicide. To allow physician assisted suicide for these patients as well, is only just and logical. Kant also brought up the idea of Categorical Imperative and objectifying one’s actions to determine whether it is just. This philosophy itself is inpractical as everything has an exception. A universally recognized moral maxim is to not lie. However none of us would condemn a man who lied in order to protect the location of his family in a murder. Just as this situation is an exception in an already flawed argument, so is physician assisted suicide. As a moral maxim, we should oppose anything promoting the harming of oneself. Giving these statistics, and given that the patient is suffering and merely has 6 months to live, the argument in forcing them to keep living, putting them in counseling, or further prolonging their death is irrational. We are not objectifying suicide, but rather being allowed to self-determine the means of an already impending death. We should not allow “autonomy” when its hurting others, but physician assisted suicide and Death With Dignity is not hurting any but yourself, in which case we should allow it. Should we objectify NOT being allowed autonomy?

I thank my opponent for a good debate.









Still definitions.

I maintain that this act legalises physician-led euthanasia, for two reasons. This is because of the nature of the act means that the doctor gives the patient the means to kill themelf. The distinguishment between suicide and euthanasia is irrelevant, though, as the contentions remain the same.

The Horror of the 5%

As my opponent constructed a case where Matthew wanted to commit suicide, we must look at his life very carefully. What would Matthew rather do? Would he rather be dead, or continue living painlessly, and with full autonomy? It is blatant that he would rather continue living without pain. As the work by Kobler-Ross showed, people can live without pain with ease in our modern society: thus, the law in place is a lazy solution. Instead, we can help Matthew continue living freely and autonomously: what my opponent puts simply is taking an emotional case, and capitalising on it: using matthew as a means to her end of convincing people with rhetoric, not facts. But here are the facts: 5% of people will die. Only 5% of people can be not saved (though my source, who is more respected and unbias states that all can be saved from death) will die, and can die without pain thanks to modern technology, without having to give them the means to die. This means 95% can be saved, but will die, due to the initiation from this law. My opponent is pleading to allow this extreme minority of 5% to die quickler, not less painfully. I am pleading that we allow the 95% to live freely and not die. I could similarly provide an emotional case like Matthew's, but where someone is pronounced terminally ill, yet the doctors were wrong, and the person comes out alive and brilliant. John Matzke was diagnosed with 18 months to live[1]. He could have, and wanted to, die. However, the law was not on his side: euthanasia was not legal. So he tried to fight for his life instead. After the fight, he fought the disease into remission. If he killed himself, then this could never have happened. Assisted suicide would have been this person's worst decision. And this is but one case of the 95%. The death by dignity law is unintelligent, irrational, and cold-hearted.

Death with "Dignity" is an unreasonable choice for those 5%

Again, I'd like to reaffirm this. We know there is a better solution for those with euthanasia: Kobler-Ross' work shows us that we can give great quality of life, free of pain, to all with terminal illnesses. We also know many recover from terminal illnesses. Finally, we know that people would choose life over death. My opponent did not refer to my thief analogy, so I will refer to it again: a rational, uncoerced man knows stealing is wrong. Similarly, a rational, uncoerced mind knows that life is better than death. Only pain leads us to make irrational decisions - something we all know well - and the fear of living with pain is what troubles us. However, without pain, people have always decided to pick life. Again, referring back to On Death and Dying (by Kobler-Ross): "Those in my care, when free [of pain], accept their time will come, and wait for it, not hasten it."[3] The only reason these people wish to die is the pain, which we can manage. My opponent has given no examples of any cases where the pain is uncontrollable: even the case of Matthew, with skin cancer, has simple and powerful control mechanisms to the pain to make it "minimal"[2], and patients have reported to "forget the pain entirely"[3]. Thus, the death with dignity is unreasonable for 5%, and unreasonable for 95%. However, we must finally state that hard cases make bad laws: the exception or two to the rule will open floodgates.

Further, Kantian ethics remains the strongest answer to the Oregon question. We should not make exceptions for this law, simply because of the connotations of making exceptions. We cannot make laws based on exceptional cases. Hard cases make bad laws. I wish to make a very long quotation to explain this idea. I usually just rewrite the statement, but I am low on characters, so...

"issue hangs on the "rarity principle." We all see the need for a law against murder. But do we need a law for a bad act that happens at one millionth the rate of murder? Probably not. Legality should offer only a blurry reflection of morality, not its mirror image. Whereas morals delineate complex fractal lines, laws should follow smooth contours free of singularities. As the saying goes, "Hard cases make bad laws." This is not a weakness of the law but a strength: that's how it can be both universal and enforceable. TBS theorists will agree but say: "Look, 1,000,000/1,000,000 = 1, so an action likely to cause one million deaths at one millionth the rate of murder matches the expected harm of murder, and hence merits its own law; ergo, legalize torture. QED." A three-word refutation: Break the law. No one's yet suggested a new speed limit sign: "55 — Unless You're Taking Your Dying Uncle To The Hospital." Speed up if you must, and pay the price later. Tucking exceptions into law is courting the same trouble as overfitting a machine learning classifier, ie, loss of generalizing power and diminished appeal to universality."[4]

The feeling of a pinprick...

This argument went untouched. Maybe the audience can interpret a response better than I can, but I cannot see a response, so I cannot discuss this myself.


To conclude, I shall end with a quotation by Bentham, a Utilitarian, as my opponent ended with Kant. "The question is...can [humans] suffer?" This is the important issue, and Bentham recognised this. Pain, not death, is what is important. Why? Because pain clouds judgement. By removing this pain, we address the problem. Oregon's law does not address the problem, it only ignores it: it hides it under the carpet. The problem is that these people are in pain, and it affects their judgement. We need to solve the problem of these people being in pain. People who aren't in pain don't want t die: it is irrational to kill them with this knowledge. Let us do the right thing, and ease their suffering, not just kill them off. Thank you.

1 -;
2 -
3 - On Death and Dying
4 -
Debate Round No. 5
8 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 8 records.
Posted by larztheloser 6 years ago
Sorry, there's a missing word "con" between my two posts below.
Posted by larztheloser 6 years ago
RFD:Okay, I'm going to be brutally honest here - this was a low-quality debate, seriously lacking in narratives until Matthew Donnelly brought up by pro. Pro's forfeit costs him two points. There were eight issues in the debate because of a lack of engagement and dropped points on both sides. The only argument discussed in any depth was con's point that death may result from self-interest, but the point quickly disintegrated into a semantic battle of law-citing that niether side gained significant ground on.

Con's three other points were very poorly structured and signposted, and came up too late in the debate to have significant impact. First came the question of whether euthenasia was a rational choice, which pro responded to by pointing out the need for a psychiatric assessment under Oregon's law. This led on to con's second point that, if I follow him correctly, 100% of people will choose euthenasia when dying, thus by pro's admission 95% will die when they could have been saved, or perhaps even 100% of people could be saved if pro was wrong. Pro wasn't allowed to respond to this new argument so I saw it as unfair, besides which it wasn't very clear. Finally, con used the old pinprick case. Pro's response was weakest here - he argued there are alternative ways to cure pain, but his counter-argument here wasn't very clear. I thought con won the pinprick point. Unfortunately what that proves to me is that utilitarianism is a strange kind of death cult. Since pro (oddly) used utilitarianism as the basis for his points, and was advocating death, I as a voter failed to understand why this was relevant to con's case. I think con could have done more to clarify his points in light of the resolution.

Pro had four points, one of which was very late. The late one was a twisted kind of precedent point about suicide, that con picked up on and merged into his own pinprick point. Pro, however, didn't run the point strongly and consistantly throughout the rounds and thus
Posted by larztheloser 6 years ago
managed to provide the greater analysis to win the overall pinprick point. Pro also ran two arguments at the start that were ignored throughout the debate, by both teams - that rights were reinforced (independant of the basis for those rights), and that euthenasia was safer. If these had been carried through all the rounds, con would have been annihilated, but as it stood the points (though won by pro) were rather lost in the debate overall.

What this debate came down to is pro's role of state point, that states ought to be utilitarian. Con made two counter-arguments. The first was that under pro's framework, death does not solve the problem for the patient. Pro had two good responses. First he argued the other people affected by the suffering would be impacted. Second he argued that the problem isn't solved either way as the choice for a terminally ill patient is not between death and life. Con's second response was that not all autonomy can be respected, such as a murderer's. What pro was able to establish, though, especially via his precedent point, was that this particular kind of act falls within a class that can be respected. Overall the role of state point wasn't as in-depth as it should have been. However, I think pro was able to defend it strongly enough to hold it, and thus ultimately carry the debate. 3:2 aff win.
Posted by Stephen_Hawkins 6 years ago
wtf? I use an argument, then because it has a fallacy involved (which i still think is inexistent: the pinprick argument is reductio ad absurdum not slippery slope. I am not saying my doing X, we will later conclude Y. I am saying that we know that by using ethical system X, we logically conclude X+. Personally, I think the slippery slope "fallacy" goes in favour of the user).

And regarding the book source, of Kobler-Ross her work is easily checked anywhere else, and the book source Practical Ethics or On Death and Dying are both very famous books, and accessible online ( for Practical Ethics, On Death and Dying accessible

That's just something you may want to read.

Basically, you are thinking up what you think are criticisms of my arguments, then placing them in my argument, then debating against it. I don't think you can say that I am wrong because I used arguments you think are fallacious, but PRO did not see them as fallacious. I thought common debating style was to not look at your own rationality and opinion. I'm going to message someone else who I know does public debating on this issue, but meh.

At least you read the debate and gave feedback, though. Orator seemed to have just voted.
Posted by Ore_Ele 6 years ago
I'll go into a quick overview of the points and a short reasoning for them, then an in depth overview of the arguments.

1 Point for conduct to CON, because PRO forfeited a round. 3 points for arguments to PRO, because CON used a good deal of logical fallacies for his arguments. 1 Point to CON for arguments (though this was cast in the S&G section) because PRO has a responsibility to point out fallacies but failed to do so. This does not change the fact that CON used them, but it does alter the score a bit.

Now, moving on to the in depth...

CON's description of ethic systems was great, however, at no point was there any argument for why we should accept one over another. But the biggest issue was in his applying these ethics for the DWD law.

CON said, "...the goal is simple: end all suffering. What's the easiest way to end all suffering? Kill all life!" This is a slippery slope fallacy. Again, PRO should have pointed this out (the next round was the one she forfeited, so that may have been why it was not addressed).

Later CON commented that when people are free of pain, they would not choose death. This was a strawman argument, since this is not the case of reality. While CON presented a source (a book which could not be checked), PRO also presented a checkable counter source. This also goes against common sense and really anyone with medical knowledge would no this to not be true, since too much pain meds will either kill or comatose a person.

And Finally, CON said "This means 95% can be saved, but will die, due to the initiation from this law." This is also a fallacy since not all terminally ill will choose DWD and nothing will force them. It should also be noted, that they cannot be "saved" only that they will die at a later date. This was a complete misrepresentation of the original argument and source.
Posted by aristotles-beard 6 years ago
As rational thinking beings, our duty is to protect life. But, not merely the QUANTITY of life, but rather the QUALITY of life. Our advancements in medicine allow us to prolong life. In the case of these terminally ill patients however, we are no longer prolonging life, but rather prolonging a death. When their life is losing quality, it should be up to them to end their life while they are ahead. To leave a healthy, dignified memory, and to die in a dignified manner. I have shown and proved that Physician Assisted suicide and the Death with Dignity Act show no negative effects, and have no negative connotations, while also proving the benefits of it to both the patients and the family and others. I have proven to you that illegalizing this is clear and inarguable injustice towards all patients. To protect autonomy, and quality of life vote PRO.

this got cut off the end of my speech :/
Posted by Stephen_Hawkins 6 years ago
Damn. I meant to add this at the end (R2):

"To make this clear, this case is prima facie my opponents. That is, if we accept my argument, we cannot accept theirs. If my argument is correct, we cannot accept the foundation of my opponent's. That is, we cannot accept the foundation of utilitarianism."
Posted by CliffTheCorrupt 6 years ago
Unfortunately, I support "Death with dignity". I would have been happy to offer this as my first debate. Hope to see someone take this up!
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