should doctors be able to end the life of a suffering patient if asked by the patient?
Debate Rounds (4)
yes I think that doctors should be able to terminate the life of the patient if asked to do so, but only if they have no hope of recovery. If terminating the life of the patient promotes the best interests of the family, friends and the patient and violates no one's rights, the libertarian view maintains, then that action is morally acceptable. In some cases, active euthanasia promotes the best interests of everyone concerned and violates no one's rights. Doctors help the sick and try to give patients a better quality of life, if the patient is in pain all the time and the doctor can do nothing to help then that's not giving the patient a better quality of life, when that happens then the doctors should be allowed to grant the patients request of taking his/her life. If a person is in pain and has no hope of recovering from their injury or sickness then it would be inhumane not to take the persons life, granted they request for it to be taken.
I would like to accept the debate in which I will be largely be playing a Devils Advocate role. I would however ask the voters to ignore the Grammar and Spelling points giving that English is not my first language. As my opponent has posted arguments in the first round I too will do the same and leave rebuttals for the following rounds.
Defining the Debate: "should doctors be able to end life of a suffering patient if asked by the patient?" I will assume the debate covers only people that can still communicate their wishes and that the life will be taken by the doctor.
CON1: Peer Pressure: By creating a environment whereby the terminally ill have a viable option to commit suicide you create a pressure on this group to take this option to reduce the burden/cost/stress on that person's family or friends. Pro states in her opening argument that "If terminating the life of the patient promotes the best interests of the family, friends and patient". This shows that the decision to end ones life affects others. The affect your life is having on others may pressure you to make a decision based on easing their suffering.
CON2: Doctors Responsibility: I see no reason why the responsibility to end someones life should reside with a Doctor. There are a number of non-violent, non-suffering easy ways of ending a life without the help of a doctor which I will not outline. My argument would be that if someone really wants to end their life the responsibility to do so should not reside with a Doctor but themselves. (Note: if my opponent wants to change the debate to include only people that cannot commit suicide without help I am happy to drop this argument but will then of course raise arguments regarding knowledge of a persons true wishes after they cease being able to communicate)
CON3: "No hope of Recovery": It is impossible to quantify what this means. A patient given "2 years" can live a further 17 years  and there are many other "miracles" that occur every year. Given this a what point do we say commiting suicide is ok? If a person has a predicted 1 year to live are they allowed to commit suicide? 2 years? 5 years? At what point do you set the limit or do you allow the assisted suicide rule for all people regardless of whether they are ill or not? This would of course raise other issues that I am happy to debate if you wish to go this route.
I look forward to my opponents rebuttals and further arguments.
Doctors make no choice at all, accept to permit and empower individuals to make their own choice to die or not. There are some ways that a doctor can help a patient end their life by simply giving them a prescription of some sort, they are not injecting them or taking their life in any other physical way, (1)they are assisting the patient by merely giving them the prescription that will help them end their pain. To say that modern medicine can totally eradicate pain is a tragic over-simplification of suffering. While physical pain may be alleviated, the emotional pain of a slow and lingering death, of the loss of the ability to live a meaningful life, can be horrible. A doctors duty is to address his or her suffering, whether it's physical or emotional. suicide assisted by a humane physician spares the patient the pain and suffering that may be part of the dying process, and grants the patient a 'mercifully' easy death.
Opponents of assisted suicide talk about the importance of allowing nature to run its course with human life, and for humans to die a natural death, as opposed to induced assisted death. Yet, if "natural-death" is the criteria for right kind of death, then hospitalization, IVs, medication, and all other sorts life-support would be wrong. And, yet, this is precisely what is used to the extreme to keep alive, artificially, many individuals that would otherwise die a "natural" death. A patient should have the right to make his or her own decisions about their health; this should not be the right of the state. Some illnesses and injuries are incurable and cause great pain. The government should not have the right to sentence these patients to suffering for the rest of their short lives.
Thanks to my opponent for her further arguments though she failed to answer most of my points and has somewhat departed from the original statment "should doctors be able to end of the life of a suffering patient if asked by the patient". I will start with her rebuttal and then further my previous arguments. I would remind Pro that she has the BOP to show why doctors should be allowed to take the lives of their patients
From Round 2:
The last paragraph talking about medication that may help to prolong a life: We are discussing here about a Doctor killing someone not drugs and equipment that may be used to extend a life. Nevertheless people already have the right to opt out of receiving life assisting help such as life-support machines (or the family can decide when to disconnect them), blood transfusions etc and many do for religious reasons  or because they no longer wish to fight or because they wish to live their life on their terms. This argument is therefore sucessfully rebuted.
Doctors Choice: My opponent is mixing her argument. Either the doctor is involved in the euthanasia process (i.e through consultation, discussion, referral etc and then issuance of the "death drug") and is thereby excersing his/her judgement or she advocates the ability to purchase a "death drug" over the counter without involvement of the Doctor. Which is it?
Other than this I see no new or further arguments from Con and she has failed to address mine from Round 1. I will try to summarise my general argument as succinctly as possible. Basically I'm saying that the difficulty in legislating and monitoring such a scheme could never really protect the terminal ill patient from my CON1 and CON3 points. Given this and the fact the person can take their own life I see no reason for a Doctor to do it or to create an acceptable practice of doing it.
Pro please answer the following questions with a yes or no.
1. Do you think that, in some cases, older people may feel pressurised (by the burden they are placing on family and friends) to end their lives?
2. Does a patient with a predicted 1 year have the right to the "death pill"?
3. Does a patient with a predicted 2 year have the right to the "death pill"?
4. Does a patient with a predicted 5 year have the right to the "death pill"?
5. Do all people regardless of whether they are ill have the right to the "death pill"?
6. Can people feel suicidal at one point but change their mind later on?
7. Do you agree that there are plenty of very easy ways to sucessfully commit suicide? (I will not provide a forum whereby we provide methods of suicide so if you deny this point we will have to agree to disagree and let the voters decide)
I look forward to your response.
1.Do you think that, in some cases, older people may feel pressurised (by the burden they are placing on family and friends) to end their lives? the answer to that question is yes, I would be lying if I said no, I understand that by saying yes I am agreeing to your previous argument (con 1. peer pressure) But nevertheless my answer is yes.
2. Does a patient with a predicted 1 year have the right to the "death pill"? who am I to say who has the right to this or that? All I can give you is my opinion on this question. But you also have to look at why they only have a certain amount of time to live, there are many reasons why doctors give people a certain amount of time to live. Some of the reasons though can either be painful or simply be there and the only pain is knowing that you are going to die by whatever it is that happened to you. I think that if you are given a certain amount if time to live, but during the time that you are alive you are either emotionally or physically in pain, then you should have the right to a doctor assisted suicide. everyone is their own person and we should all have the right to do whatever we want to do with ourselves. I'm not saying that suicide is a good thing, it brings many people pain and grieving, but I am saying that we should all at least have a right to the option.
3. Does a patient with a predicted 2 year have the right to the "death pill"? same as 2.
4. Does a patient with a predicted 5 year have the right to the "death pill"? same as 2.
5. Do all people regardless of whether they are ill have the right to the "death pill"? at the start of this debate my question was whether doctor assisted suicide for the PATIENT should be allowed. not whether everyone should have a right to doctor assisted suicide, regardless of whether or not they are ill. Anyone and everyone will take their own lives if they want to, it cannot be stopped and many times if people try they just end up finding sneakier ways to take their own lives. once again as I said in question 2,who am I to say who has the right to this or that? I understand if it seems like I'm avoiding this question, but you will have to trust that I don't really have an opinion on the matter.
6. Can people feel suicidal at one point but change their mind later on? Yes they can but, there are the rare cases of those who will stop at nothing to take their own lives. And if a person can change their minds about taking their life to NOT taking their life, then whose to say their mind won't change back, and they will want to take their lives again????
7. Do you agree that there are plenty of very easy ways to successfully commit suicide? I would be a fool to say no there are not easy ways to take your own life, therefore my answer is clearly yes.
In answer to you rebuttal 2: Either way the doctor is somehow involved in helping the patient take his/her life, by giving the patient the prescription so they can do it themselves, or by assisting the patient in taking the "death pill" there are many ways they can be involved in helping the patient, and I apologize for not being more specific about how the doctor would be involved. And I would appreciate it if you refrain from suggesting that I am changing the debate in my favor because I am not, I was simply not being specific enough about how the doctor could be involved and I apologize for that.
I look forward to my opponents next argument.
Firstly I'd like to thank my opponent for answering the questions I posted truthfully which not all people would have done. I would also like to apologies if I suggested the opponent was attempting to change the debate. This was not my intention.
Anyways onto the debate. I would like to remind voters that the Burden of Proof rests with Pro (i.e it is up to her to convince you that "doctors should be able to end the life of a patient") and I need only negate her arguments.
Given that no new arguments were raised in Round 3 by my opponent I will quickly follow up on my questions and her answers and then summarise the position.
1. Again thankyou for being honest. Point conceded to Con.
2. I appreciate your opinion (and given that I'm playing a devils advocate role I can understand where you are coming from), however you have failed to answer the key point of this and the following 3 questions. Namely at what point do we say people have the right to the "death pill"? How do we control the use of the "death pill"?
3 & 4: See point 2
5. This was a logical extension of my question 2. If we introduce a "death pill" we will need to state what criteria people must fill in order to be allowed to take it. My basic argument here is that this is so difficult to lesgislate that it should not be done
6. Ok, I can see your point that an opinion can change from "wanting death" to "not wanting death" and vice versa. The difference is that if you help the person kill themselves there is no going back! Its final and there is no more opportunity to change your mind back as you would be dead. For this reason we should not help people commit suicide.
7. Point conceded to CON. Again I thank you for the honest answer and not forcing us to go further into details.
Summary: As this is the end of Round 3 and no new arguments can be raised in Round 4 I will provide a summary.
CON1: Point conceded to CON
CON2: I don't believe pro has rebutted this point. Point conceded to CON
CON3: Point conceded to CON.
Given this I urge a vote for CON. Conduct points to PRO for honesty. I would like to thank my opponent for the debate and look forward to her closing comments in Round 4.
As my opponent said before he started following up on the questions that he asked me to answer in the previous round. The Burden of Proof rests with Pro (i.e it is up to her to convince you that "doctors should be able to end the life of a patient")
The main reason that I strongly believe in letting doctor assisted suicide be legalized, is because everyone is in charge of their own body, we all have a right to decide how we want to live or die, yes there are some problems that arrive with assisted suicide as my opponent brought up in the previous arguments,I fully accept that. But nevertheless it's a free country and the government shouldn't be allowed to tell us how we can die.
I apologize that I wasn't able to answer questions 2,3, and 4 to my fullest extent, all I can say on that matter is that we can't really say who has the "right" to the "death pill" I simply think that if your in a situation where your constantly in pain emotionally or physically because you have a sickness or some sort of injury that you can't survive, then you should be able to take your own life,whether that means getting whatever it is you need from the doctor in order to do it yourself, or the doctor physically helping you take your own life.
I understand your point when you said that "If we introduce a "death pill" we will need to state what criteria people must fill in order to be allowed to take it. My basic argument here is that this is so difficult to legislate that it should not be done." But here are a few criteria that I think would make sense if people met them in order to have assisted suicide.
• Two independent doctors were satisfied with the diagnosis.
• The person was aware of all the social and medical help available.
• They were not acting under the influence of a mental illness.
please note that these are not new arguments that I have posted, all I am doing is stating the kind of criteria that I think should be met in order to have assisted suicide. If however my opponent feels as though these are new arguments I am perfectly fine with it if he provides a rebuttal towards the criteria that I think should be met. Other than that I look forward to his closing arguments. once again thank you for giving me a true challenge in this debate.
Pro suggested "required criteria" in order to be given the death pill. I think this could make an interesting new debate topic. As it is the last round I don't want to write to write a large rebuttal with new arguments especially as the criteria outlined still don't answer my question earlier (i.e. what forecasted time do the patients have left) . The reason I ask this question was show the problem of allowing the "death pill" may lead to healthy people also having access and the ethical problems therefrom. To be clear I mean that if you can't define the exact "expected life remaining" time you have to open this option to all people.
In Pro's closing statement she says the following statements
a) "we all have the right to decided how we live or die" I absolutely agree.
b) "there are some problem that arrive with assisted suicide" I absolutely agree.
c) "it's a free country and the government shouldn't be allowed to tell us how we can die" I absolutely agree.
The debate was whether doctors should be able to end the life of a patient? It was agreed that this patient was capable of committing suicide without help. I believe I have succesfully argued that if they can do it themselves it should be their responsibility to do so and not place the burden on a doctor. I also raised 2 other problems with introducing this legislation which Pro conceded.
I thank voters for reading and urge a vote for Con.
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