Developing An Assisted Suicide Essay
Assisted suicide is a controversial issue that isn’t as heated as it once was in the last decade—the 2000s—but still lends itself to some rather heated discussion. The reason for the lack of mainstream interest and therefore attention on assisted suicide is that there has been no major catalyst even in recent times.
Writing an essay on assisted suicide requires a good deal of research and knowing what your thesis will be about the subject. If your objective is to defend a particular point on assisted suicide, you should pick a side; pick a topic within assisted suicide, and go to work on research and writing.
Here are the steps to getting started:
- Ask questions and answer them.
We’ll just go into the first two as writing is self-explanatory. You want a strong introduction and a stronger closing with your points and facts being the body of your essay. Including proper formatting that the instructor assigns and you have the fundamentals for the writing portion of the essay.
Ask Questions, Answer Them
To develop your thesis statement—the main rallying point your essay will ride on—you’ll need to reflect on the subject overall and narrow it to a few topics. You can narrow assisted suicide by asking questions. A few questions that could be asked are:
- What are the moral concerns about assisted suicide?
- What are legal concerns and precedents on assisted suicide? Where is assisted suicide legal?
- What is the general opinion on assisted suicide?
- What position are health care professionals and hospitals put in concerning assisted suicide?
- What are some of the reasons to consider assisted suicide?
Although many of these aren’t the strong questions that will give insightful reflection, they are decent building blocks that you could work with or give you an idea of the direction you should head in with the questions.
Answer your question and you’ll find your thesis statement.
As stated, your essay will ride on the thesis statement.
Research is extremely important for any essay whether it’s an argumentative one, a thesis essay, or what have you. If you’re unsure as to what you should research about assisted suicide, research everything.
- The history
- The law
- Published accounts in the news
- Psychological analysis
Research will give your thesis legs to stand on, so get as much information as possible.
The question: Do we have a right to death?
For the overwhelming majority of terminally ill patients, the solution to their suffering is quality palliative care, which I enthusiastically support. But there is a small but significant minority of terminally ill patients for whom palliative care is not the solution, and who suffer terribly until they die. Some of these people wish to end their suffering by ending their lives, and would like assistance to do this, in a way which would enable them to bring their lives to an end with dignity at a time and place of their choice, which would normally be at home surrounded by their loved ones.
However under our current law, helping even a terminally ill person who is suffering unbearably to die at his or her request, would be a crime punishable under the 1961 Suicide Act with up to 14 years imprisonment.
The only way to prevent such suffering appears to me to be to change the law, so as to allow such patients to lawfully receive assistance to die. Assisted suicide would, in these circumstances, be a compassionate and ethical response to a desperate need. A good rather than a harm, and complementary rather than in opposition to palliative care.
The principle underpinning this proposal to change the law is the human right of all individuals to decide for themselves how to lead their lives, which would include their choice on how and when to die at a time their lives are coming to an end. However, it is clear that this right must be subject to the limitation, that in ending their own lives, patients must not indirectly harm other vulnerable members of society.
It follows that in meeting the need to alleviate the suffering of some individuals, care must be taken not to generally undermine the existing law, which, while allowing suicide, does not aim to encourage it, and protects citizens from being encouraged or influenced to end their lives.
Proper respect must also be paid to the views of those who are opposed to assisted suicide. However, as a small minority, they should not be allowed, without good reason, to impose their beliefs and views on the majority of society who do not share them.
In the legislation which has previously been proposed, those deciding whether the request for assistance to die gets approval have been members of the medical profession.
However, it has become clear that doctors, nurses and other health practitioners would have grave misgivings about their personal involvement in assisted suicide, often irrespective of whether or not they are opposed to a change in the law. Their instinctive reaction is not to help anyone to end their life, which is understandable as they joined their profession in order to cure or prevent patients from falling ill, and in the cases of terminally ill patients, to ease their suffering in the dying process.
Accordingly, what I now propose is to take doctors out of the investigative and decision-making process, which should become the role of a legal body such as the high court or the court of protection or tribunals specifically set up for this purpose. This would be consistent with the present role of the courts, which decide upon whether patients who have been in a vegetative state for long periods should be allowed to die, and also consistent with the role of the court of protection in determining mental competence in relation to advance directives.
The courts or another legal body would have the responsibility for investigating and determining whether a terminally ill patient suffering unbearably should be entitled to ask for assistance to die. They would be required to make this decision within a framework, which will cover the principles, restrictions and safeguards I have set out.
When authorising assistance to the patient to die, the courts would also authorise the prescription of life-ending medication to the patient, or in the very small number of cases where the patient is so physically disabled that he or she cannot ingest the medication, would authorise such other means of self-administration of the medication as would enable the patient to end his or her life. The key point would be that responsibility for the ultimate act still rested with the patient.
The medication and means would only be made available after a minimum waiting period, and it would be for the patients to decide when to ingest the medication, or to change their minds and not to ingest it at all.
Self-administration is an important safeguard against possible undue influence, as there could be no better evidence of a decision freely and voluntarily made by the patient.
I am not in favour of voluntary euthanasia which is where a third party ends the life of the patient. Because assisted suicide provides a solution to all terminally ill patients who desperately wish to end their suffering, there is nothing to be gained by extending the law to allow voluntary euthanasia as well.