The right to die

Physician-assisted suicide presents one of the greatest dilemmas tothe medical profession. Should someone who is
mentally competent, but deemed terminally ill, be allowed to engagein physician-assisted suicide? According to the
First Amendment of The Constitution of The United States, “one hasthe freedom to petition the government for a
redress of grievances.“ The Fourteenth Amendment states, “The Statecannot deprive any person of life, liberty or
property, without due process of law; nor deny any person within itsjurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.“ The
group believes that a terminally ill patient has the Constitutionalright to decide whether or not to end his or her life with
the help of a licensed medical doctor. There have been many cases overthe years where a terminally ill patient who is
mentally competent has made the choice to either partake in physician-assistedsuicide or euthanasia.

“Physician-assisted suicide occurs when the physician provides thepatient with the means and/or knowledge to
commit suicide”(Death and Dying,91). “Euthanasia is when the physicianadministers the death causing drug or
agent”(Death and Dying,92). The most recent case is that of The Stateof Florida v. Charles Hall. “Charles Hall is
dying of AIDS and challenged the State of Florida to let him die bya self-administered lethal injection without fear of
prosecution”(http://www.rights.org/ deathnet/open.html). On January31, 1997, a Judge ruled that Charles Hall could
take his own life with the aid of a doctor. Senior Judge S. JosephDavis, brought in from Seminole County, “found that
Florida’s strict privacy law and the equal protection clause in theU.S. Constitution entitled Hall, 35, and Dr. McIver
to carry out an assisted death without fear of prosecution” (Sun-Sentinel,1A). On February 11, 1997, Charles Hall’s
ruling was overturned by the Florida Supreme Court: he no longer hasthe right to end his own life. He will have to
wait until May 9, 1997 until new arguments will be heard. Hall, whohas been deemed mentally competent, contracted
the virus in 1981 through a blood transfusion. “Some of the complicationshe is encountering from the AIDS virus are
arthritis, hepatitis, pneumonia and a brain cyst” (http://www.rights.org/deathnet/open.html). The Oregon Death with
Dignity Act allows terminally ill adults who are mentally competentto ask for a prescription for medication “for the
purpose of ending his or her life in a humane and dignified manner”(http://www.rights.org/deathnet/open.html). This
act, “Measure 16,” was approved by the voters in 1994. “Renewed effortsat the Legislative level to overturn
“Measure 16” may now be anticipated to prevent the law from being used”(http://www.rights.org/deathnet/open.

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html). In June, 1990, the Supreme Court decided that the parents of32 year old Nancy Beth Cruzan, who had been
in a car accident and in what Doctor’s called a vegetative state forseven years, could not end her treatment. Later that
same year, a Missouri Court ruled that the feeding tube could be removedafter evidence that Cruzan would wish to
terminate the treatment was proven. “Nancy Beth Cruzan died twelvedays later”(Death and Dying,26).

The First Amendment gives one the right to demand the correction ofan injustice. Would one not consider a terminal
illness an injustice? Charles Hall contracted this deadly disease froma blood transfusion not from shooting drugs or
having unprotected sex. So wouldn’t Hall be entitled to have this injusticecorrected? The Fourteenth Amendment
gives one the right to life, liberty, or property, without due processof law. However, is living with complications from
a terminal illness, so severe that one is unable to function independently,life? The government says that it is. Liberty is
freedom, but is having complications which do not allow one to be freeand independent, freedom? The government
says once again that it is. Freedom is also having the ability to makechoices. These choices should include the ability
to decide to end one’s own life when such complications exist. In conclusion,evidence has shown that the First and
Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution entitles citizens of the UnitedStates of America the right to die. The
government was setup to govern, not to rule with absolute power. Ifthe people were to keep silent about what they
believe in, our government would not exist as the system that it istoday. Our democracy was created because of
those brave souls who fought for their rights, and we should followin their footsteps. If everyone would voice there
opinion in favor for the right to die, the government would have toattend to the peoples’ wishes.


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