IntroductionThe (“Religions,” 2009). The Catholic Church has also
IntroductionThe first reference to assisted suicide in a medical sense dates back to the 17th century when Francis Bacon described it as an “easy, painless, and happy death”; He also believed it was the “physician’s duty to alleviate the physical sufferings of the body” (“A General,” n.d.). Assisted suicide became legal first in Oregon in 1994 and is currently legal in California, Colorado, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia as well (Richardson, 2015). Since the first state legalization in 1994, the idea of a doctor helping a patient commit suicide has raised significant controversy. In order to justify whether physician-assisted suicide should be legalized or not, we must look at several perspectives on the ethics of this practice.Christian Perspective Around the world, there are 43,000 denominations of Christianity; each share a common belief system with small differences as to how Christians should live their lives. While most denominations are against assisted suicide because they believe a God should be the one controlling when a person dies, there are some denominations that support a person’s right to die when they choose. The American Baptist Church, a denomination of Christianity that was created in 1612, believes that, “In too many cases extraordinary measures have been taken to sustain a life with no apparent regard for the quality of that life nor for the wishes and desires of the dying person” (“American,” n.d.). The American Baptist Church has taken a more modern, empathetic approach to the topic. They consider the wishes of the dying person, rather than attempting to use their religious documents to talk someone out of choosing assisted suicide. Nevertheless, many denominations use the Bible and leaders to justify their opposition to assisted suicide. Saint Pope John Paul II, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church from 1978 to 2005, believes that “Euthanasia a form of assisted suicide is a grave violation of the law of God, since it is the deliberate and morally unacceptable killing of a human person” (“Religions,” 2009). The Catholic Church has also alluded to the Bible when referring to assisted-suicide or euthanasia procedures. Passages 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 and 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 both communicate that a person does not belong to themselves, but they are God’s; therefore, it is up to God to decide when a person dies. While both the American Baptist Church and the Catholic Church draw from the same religious texts, the interpretation of the scripture is different, leaving the two denominations with different opinions on assisted suicide. Many people subscribe to the ideals of a religion, therefore religion influences what a family believes is morally okay. However, because of the different interpretations, there are perspectives a family member can potentially have.Patient Perspective Dealing with terminal illness is undoubtedly hard, especially because patients feel out of control of their own lives (Hughes, 2017). Two of the most famous advocates for assisted suicide are Adam Maier-Clayton, a once athletic teen from Ontario whose condition worsened when he was 23, and Brittany Maynard, a seemingly-healthy 29-year-old who had been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer and given six months to live. They both advocate for a more humane way to die. When Brittany realized she did not have much time left, she moved to Oregon to pursue physician-assisted suicide, the closest of the five states where assisted suicide is legal. In an emotional article, she told People Magazine, “I don’t want to die, but I am dying… My cancer is going to kill me, and it’s a terrible, terrible way to die. So to be able to die with my family with me, to have control of my own mind, which I would stand to lose—to go with dignity is less terrifying. When I look into both options I have to die, I feel this is far more humane.” (Egan, Fowler, & Keating, 2014). Adam Maier-Clayton also wanted control over his own death. He committed suicide at the age of 27 after four years of suffering from Somatic Symptom Disorder, “a psychiatric condition characterised by physical complaints that aren’t faked but can’t always be traced to a known medical illness.” (Hughes, 2017). Adam had been campaigning for his right to die since Canada passed Bill C-14 which excludes mental illness from the scope of people allowed to medically end their lives. In Adam’s last post on Facebook on April 13 2017, he wrote “Bill C-14 absolutely must be amended so that sufferers of refractory illness (both mental and physical) have the ability to decide for themselves if they wish to continue suffering and enduring their illness or not. If not, giving them a dignified, painless way out of their suffering is what we need to do if we wish to truthfully be able to consider ourselves a civilized society” (Browne, n.d.). Brittany and Adam advocated for their right to control the way they were going to die, in order to avoid unnecessary and painful suffering. They both felt as though they would have a more peaceful, happier death if given the opportunity to choose when and how they died surrounded by family members. This brings about the argument if it really is ethical to make your family members suffer, or if it is morally unjust to let them end their lives.Family PerspectiveAn imperative piece discussion is the family members of the patients and how they feel and are affected. Both Brittany and Adam had family members who cared for them very much and were with them throughout their medical struggle. Because of Canadian law, Adam’s parents could not be there when he decided to pass. In a video posted by BBC, a news outlet that is ranked one of the most objective and credible U.S. news sources by an Erdos & Morgan survey of American opinion leaders (Press, n.d.), Adam’s mother spoke out, recounting Adam’s story in July of 2017, three months after her son’s death: “my son had to slink away in the middle of the night, after midnight, after his dad had gone to sleep… My son dies, all alone in a motel room without anyone there. No friends, no family, nobody. Graham Adam’s father and I could not be there, we would have been criminally prosecuted for aiding and abetting” (Hughes, 2017). Adam’s parents realized how much pain he was in, and no matter how painful it would be to lose him at such a young age, both agreed it was the right decision for him. A similar situation presented itself in Brittany’s case. Her husband, Dan Diaz, backed her decision from the start, despite his original wishes. “Did I want her to die? Of course not. Did I want the whole thing to go away? Of course. But did I ever want her to change her mind? No. I would never want my wife to suffer for no reason.” (Egan, 2015). While in both cases the parents and spouses talked about their grief and how much they miss their loved one, they both made it clear in their interviews that they understood this was the ethical option for the patient.