Expressing the right to die can be just as important as expressing the right to

Expressing the right to die can be just as important

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Expressing the right to die can be just as important as expressing the right to live. All around the world people are allowed to express their self-determination. Cornell University’s Legal Information Institute defines self-determination as “the legal right of people to determine their own destiny”. Yet, I find the idea of self-determination and autonomy to mean much more than a person just being allowed to determine their own fate. A scholar, Dan Brock, the professor of medical ethics at Harvard University, explains in his writing, “Voluntary Active Euthanasia: An Overview and Defense”, that self-determination allows American citizens to live a good life in which they are free to express and act on their decisions (165). He also debates that legalizing active euthanasia values both “individual self determination or autonomy and individual well being” (165). Many citizens in our country value different ideals; some want to die a natural death and let life take it’s course, others do not want to live their life if it becomes burdensome to others. For those who do not want to live their life once it becomes burdensome, how are they allowed to die the way they want? In 2001, Professors Len and Lesley Doyle posted an article in the US National Library of Medicine, which regarded the legalization of active euthanasia. Len and Lesley Doyle brought about a recent situation that many people with terminal illnesses in America are dealing with; they wrote “ Last month Diane Pretty was refused the legal right to choose the circumstances of her own death. She suffers from motor neurone disease and is
experiencing the disintegration of her body. She faces a death that she believes will entail indignity and suffering and physically cannot kill herself. The court has denied her request that her husband be allowed to help her. This decision may be consistent with legal precedent but is morally wrong.” It is obvious that Diane Pretty did not want to continue living if she experienced suffering and shame in not living a good life. But what could she do? Many people who are suffering with terminal illnesses have to continue living through excruciating pain and dependence on others until their body allows them to die. By enacting laws against freedom to die, people are unable to express their individual self-determination. On the other hand, active euthanasia does require the assistance from a physician. It has been argued that “intentionally ending a person’s life is an act that requires another person’s participation, and requires giving that other person a good reason to participate” (Emanuel 630/631). In other words, many people believe that because active euthanasia also requires the assistance of a physician, it is not expressing individual autonomy. What people do not realize is that doctors are allowed to express their own self-determination as well. Just like patients, doctors have morals that they are allowed to live up to. For example, if a patient was suffering

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