Important Information About Assisted Suicide States

| Thursday, June 25, 2015
By Ruthie Calderon

Many people who are suffering from a long-term or terminal illness wish to end their suffering in a humane and dignified way. This has recently become a controversial topic in the United States as more people advocate for the right to end their own lives. Today, there are a handful of assisted suicide states in America that allow this.

Currently, Washington, Vermont and Oregon allow physician-assisted deaths. Montana and New Mexico may soon allow this due to recent court cases that may be appealed. The main argument against this practice is that allowing doctors to help patients to end their life violates their Hippocratic Oath, which all doctors have traditionally taken. The Hippocratic Oath basically promises to do no harm to a patient. There are also various religious objections to this practice as well, from both Christian and non-Christian faiths.

In New Mexico, a doctor may help a terminally ill patient to die and not be prosecuted. This is according to a court decision handed down in 2014; however, this case is currently being appealed, so advocates and legal authorities are waiting to see if it will be overturned.

There may also be the problem of conflicting roles for physicians as many doctors believe that these changes would affect the relationship between doctors and their patients. While a doctor is meant to preserve life, many advocates argue for the right of an individual to die when they see fit.

Medical ethics plays a large part in these recent debates. All doctors traditionally take the Hippocratic Oath, which states that they will not give a deadly medicine to anyone nor counsel them to take it. Therefore, helping someone to die this way contravenes this oath. There are many other similar pacts and oaths that adhere to this principle, such as the Declaration of Geneva and the International Code of Medical Ethics. But the main idea is that helping someone to die is against the principles of a being a good doctor.

If you have a relative who is a considering getting a doctor to assist them with dying, it is highly recommended that they do no rush into the decision. They need to understand both the medical and legal implications of doing this. Firstly, if they do not live in one of the states mentioned, then they will likely not be able to get a doctor to help them die. In some cases, the doctor may even lose their license or face charges for presenting this as an option to their patient.

Many health care professionals oppose this practice due to the possible harmful effects it may have on certain vulnerable people. This is often called the slippery slope argument, which is based on the fear that once society permits assisted suicide or euthanasia for terminally ill people it will start to affect other vulnerable people as well, such as the disabled and the elderly. The concern is that it might be used by people who feel unworthy to live because of their age or disability.

New Mexico ruled recently that a terminally ill patient has a constitutional right to receive help in dying. While state law declares it a felony to help a person commit suicide, the judge in the case ruled that the constitutional right of the terminally ill person overruled the state law. Therefore, it is unclear if this ruling applies throughout all of New Mexico or only to the county where the ruling was made.

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