The Instigator
gbellezza
Pro (for)
Winning
6 Points
The Contender
Brian314
Con (against)
Losing
1 Points

Should assisted suicide be made fully legal in the United States?

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
gbellezza
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/21/2011 Category: Society
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,042 times Debate No: 15513
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (0)
Votes (2)

 

gbellezza

Pro

Clearly arguing for the pro side. Reasons coming in second round.
Brian314

Con

I accept my opponent's challenge and look forward to this debate.

To clarify, I would like to provide the following definition of "assisted suicide": "the suicide of a suffering patient, effected by the taking of lethal drugs provided by a doctor for this purpose".
Debate Round No. 1
gbellezza

Pro

Definition accepted

Assisted suicide should be an accepted principal in the United States. Hundreds of thousands of patients all over the United States are suffering from diseases and cancers that have reached a terminal stage. So at the point of reaching terminal status where there is nothing left that doctors and oncologists can do but make the patient comfortable, why not give them the option to end their lives on their own terms by use of a lethal dose of morphine for example. The pain would be subsided before the organs shut down. Terminal patients can hold onto life for weeks. During this time, they are in immense pain and suffer every single day. So why not give them the option to cut the weeks of pain short.

Now I am not advocating allowing any patient to have the option for assisted suicide. It would need certain guidelines. The patient would have to be declared terminal by a team of doctors before giving them the option this way you can make sure the patients are not just looking for a quick way to kill themselves.
Brian314

Con

My opponent claims that since hundreds of thousands of patients suffer from terminal diseases and cancers, when there is nothing left for doctors and oncologists to do, they should give the patient the option to end their lives by a lethal dose of medication. Firstly, I would like to request clarification. My opponent first claims that "when there is nothing left that doctors and oncologists can do... why not give them the option to end their lives", and then later states that "I am not advocating allowing any patient to have the option for assisted suicide." It seems as though there is a contradiction here, I would like my opponent to explain what he means by this further.

Next, I would like to point out that according to my opponent's claim, patients would want assisted suicide if they have a terminal illness and suffer every single day. I would like to point out that the reason people do not like suffering is because it detracts from the quality of their life. Death, meanwhile, is pushing the detraction from the quality of life to the extreme by eliminating life altogether. Therefore, it is illogical for death to be used as a solution to suffering.

My opponent asks "Why not give them [the patients with terminal illnesses] the option to cut the weeks of pain short?" My answer is this- if assisted suicide were legal, we are essentially permitting doctors to kill their patients if they feel that is necessary. My opponent is claiming that if the doctors ask the patient and give them the option, and the patient agrees, the doctor should have the right to kill the patient. And what is to happen to those that are mentally ill and suffering from terminal illnesses? If a doctor were to ask a mentally ill patient if they wished to request assisted suicide, and the patient were to accept, how are we to know that is what they actually wanted. In the report "A Hundred Cases of Suicide: Clinical Aspects", it is shown that 93-94% of all people that commit suicides suffer from a mental disorder of some kind. Therefore, we should not give patients that option to "cut the weeks of pain short".

I would also like to point out that assisted suicide removes all possibility of remission or recovery, because once a patient has died, there is no longer any chance of recovery. However, if they remain alive, there is a possibility, even if it very minimal, that they could be cured with advanced treatments. Diagnoses are not always correct, which means that sometimes patients would die when they could have been cured.

For these preceding reasons, I urge you to vote Con on this issue.
Debate Round No. 2
gbellezza

Pro

Clarification request granted. When i say give them the option when there is nothing left to do, it is meant that i mean there is absolutely no treatments left or available that could cure the patient and they are just ultimately waiting for the patient to die. There is no contradiction there thought. What i am not advocating is allowing just anyone to say "i would like assisted suicide". The patient would have to meet certain parameters to be allowed to have the option.

People who have constant arthritis or pain for car accidents where they suffer everyday should not be candidates for this either. I am arguing for the point that suicide should be an option for TERMINAL patients and not just your average guy who has slipped discs in his neck. Death is eminent in every single terminal patient. Their life will be eliminated all together anyway. So why is it wrong for someone to be able to cut a quality of life that is minimal short instead of sitting in a hospital bed almost comatose while hopped up on morphine unaware of your surroundings till their organs shut down.

What makes this any different than a DNR(Do Not Resuscitate)singed by people entering the hospitals. They are saying even though there is a chance to save me, to let me die if my heart happens to stop.

Nothing is foolproof. Of course there is always a chance of a misdiagnosis. But when they kill patients for that reason because of wrong courses of treatments, is it any worse than if you were to help a patient kill oneself if a misdiagnosis is also made?

Once again i think you are misreading the argument. You states, "I would also like to point out that assisted suicide removes all possibility of remission or recovery, because once a patient has died, there is no longer any chance of recovery. However, if they remain alive, there is a possibility, even if it very minimal, that they could be cured with advanced treatments". If a patient is deemed to be terminal, then there is no treatment that could be rendered that would cure or help a patient. If a medical breakthrough were to come about in the time between being diagnosed and the eventual time of death, that is great for the field of medicine.

And as for the urge to vote Con, this is a 5 round debate and to try to end it early in my opinion is a fallacy.
Brian314

Con

I thank my opponent for the clarification, but I would like to point out that my opponent here states that "the patient would have to meet certain parameters to be allowed to have that option [assisted suicide]". However, if we are to look at the topic of this debate, we are questioning whether or not assisted suicide should be made "fully legal" in the United States, and by the definition accepted by both sides, assisted suicide is "the suicide of a suffering patient, effected by the taking of lethal drugs provided by a doctor for this purpose." Based on that information, we can conclude that for assisted suicide to be "fully legal", it means that any suffering patient could have a doctor give them a lethal injection in assisted suicide. For assisted suicide to be "fully legal" as the issue is regarding, it needs to be legal under all circumstances. My opponent says that "suicide should be an option for terminal patients and not just your average guy who has slipped discs in his neck". But by the definitions set in Round 1, assisted suicide is a potential option for even those who do not have terminal illnesses. My opponent is only looking at assisted suicide from the perspective that it will be used only for those with terminal illnesses, and is not considering that for assisted suicide to be "fully legal", it needs to apply to not just those with terminal illnesses.

Regarding terminal patients, my opponent states that death is eminent for terminal patients, and their "life will be eliminated altogether anyway". I would like to point out that this is true of all humans, with terminal illnesses or not. Death is unavoidable for all of us, but that doesn't mean that all of us are going to cut our lives short since we're going to die anyways.

My opponent says that assisted suicide is no different from a DNR. However, when the heart stops, the person has, essentially died. When a person dies is a very uncertain factor, whether it be when the heart stops functioning, or the brain, or the lungs. So based on certain definitions, when the heart stops functioning, one could consider that person dead. With terminal illnesses, the person is most certainly still alive, simply in the process of dying.

I have not misread the argument. I understand that patients with terminal illnesses have no available treatment. However, the possibility of human error in diagnosing the treatment could result in someone being deemed terminal even when they are not. If they remain alive, they could recover, but with assisted suicide, their life has ended. And in addition, as I stated earlier on in this round, we are not only looking at terminal patients, based on definition.

I understand that this is a 5 round debate. I did not attempt to end it early, I simply intended to reinforce my position.
Debate Round No. 3
gbellezza

Pro

Some strong points clearly. But America already has assisted suicide in Oregon. That means one state already allows self assisted or medical suicide for patients. What i am arguing is if one state is doing it, why should it not be made fully legal.

Found on Oregon.Gov, "On October 27, 1997 Oregon enacted the Death with Dignity Act which allows terminally-ill Oregonians to end their lives through the voluntary self-administration of lethal medications, expressly prescribed by a physician for that purpose. The Oregon Death with Dignity Act requires the Oregon Department of Human Services to collect information about the patients and physicians who participate in the Act, and publish an annual statistical report."

Certain guidelines are posted to be able to follow through with the assisted suicide including:
•An adult (18 years of age or older
•A resident of Oregon
•Capable (defined as able to make and communicate health care decisions)
•Diagnosed with a terminal illness that will lead to death within six months.

This is also done after multiple consultations with doctors.
•The patient must make two oral requests to his or her physician, separated by at least 15 days.
•The patient must provide a written request to his or her physician, signed in the presence of two witnesses.
•The prescribing physician and a consulting physician must confirm the diagnosis and prognosis.
•The prescribing physician and a consulting physician must determine whether the patient is capable.
•If either physician believes the patient's judgment is impaired by a psychiatric or psychological disorder, the patient must be referred for a psychological examination.

The thing that makes this almost seemingly ok would be the fact that it is not a doctor pulling the plug or administering too much morphine for example. It is done by the patient and is ultimately their decision to follow through. With these rules and guidelines in place, the patients assume full responsibility. It is also seemed to work well in Oregon and has gotten good reviews so why not allow it in other states and become a fully legal entity all over the United States.
Brian314

Con

Just because one state has allowed it, does not mean that it should be fully legal. I believe that there may be a misunderstanding regarding what "fully legal" means. The way I see it is that since "fully" means "completely or entirely; to the furthest extent; without lacking or omitting anything", according to the New Oxford American Dictionary, for assisted suicide to be fully legal, it must be legal to the furthest extent, without restrictions. Oregon's Death with Dignity Act clearly poses restrictions as to what is acceptable for assisted suicide and what is not acceptable.

I would also like to point out, however, that the Oregon Death with Dignity Act has caused abuse. The Journal of the American Psychiatric Association has shown that under Oregon's Death with Dignity Act, "a patient received a lethal prescription almost two years before he died naturally." Oregon's law requires that the patients be likely to die within six months, so obviously there was either a mistake or abuse here. By permitting assisted suicide across the entire country, we are opening the doors for even more mistakes and even more abuse, and more people will die from assisted suicide when they could have lived longer. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, there was a Death with Dignity Act case in which "a woman with Alzheimer's disease and cancer received assisted suicide even after a psychiatrist reported that she didn't know what she was asking for". This once again comes to show that the Death with Dignity Act has flaws and is not enforced properly, and therefore it should not be implemented across the country.

My opponent did not respond to any of my refutations or arguments from Round 3, and therefore what I said about the debate applying not only to terminal patients, unavoidable death, DNRs, and remission and recovery still remain valid.
Debate Round No. 4
gbellezza

Pro

The argument for assisted suicide becoming "fully" legal meant to be legal in every state. Should of been clarified in opening round if you were unsure, so that is my fault.

But no system for anything is flawed. There are such things as medical miracles where people have been diagnosed with just weeks to live and have survived for months even years before finally dying. But those are unforeseen things that cant be determined with tests.

There also will always be people who wanna use good things for the wrong reason. But that is why the consultations and the examinations are in place.

Coming from a personal standpoint, i watched my grandfather suffer in the hospital for months after being diagnosed as terminal and you could tell in his eyes that he just wanted the pain to go away. It is for reasons and people like that, with no alterior motives, that should have the option.
Brian314

Con

I thank my opponent for his response.

I continue to stand by my definition of "fully legal", meaning that this debate is regarding whether or not assisted suicide should be legal to all suffering patients, and not just terminal ones. However, I will debate given my opponent's definition of "fully legal" as well.

My opponent claims that "No system for anything is flawed", however, I have pointed out in my Round 4 arguments that the Oregon Death with Dignity Act is most definitely flawed, due to the two examples of the patient who lived for two more years and the woman with Alzheimer's disease. He then claims "There are such thing as medical miracles where people have been diagnosed with just weeks to live and have survived for months even years before finally dying." This contradicts what he said in Round 3, "Death is eminent in every single terminal patient." My opponent has conceded that even in terminal patients, there is a chance of remission and recovery. And therefore, if there is that chance of life, patients should not be given the option of assisted suicide.

He moves on to say that there will always be those who want to use good things for the wrong reasons, and consultations and examinations are in place for that purpose. However, if we look back at the woman with Alzheimer's which I discussed in Round 4, she was given a psychiatric consultation, and the psychiatrist reported that she didn't know what she was asking for when she requested assisted suicide. And still, she was given the lethal drugs, and she died.

I strongly urge you to vote Con, and I thank my opponent for a great debate.
Debate Round No. 5
No comments have been posted on this debate.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Ore_Ele 6 years ago
Ore_Ele
gbellezzaBrian314Tied
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Total points awarded:31 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro had some bad gramatical errors, which made it difficult to read at times, however, Con was making logical fallacies (namely a slippery slope fallacy in R2). Neither used sources (which is odd for this type of debate), and I didn't really see any conduct issues.
Vote Placed by Cliff.Stamp 6 years ago
Cliff.Stamp
gbellezzaBrian314Tied
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: Poor semantics from Con.