Hemlock Society & Foundation of Florida

Emotion blurs suicide debate

This article appeared in the Rebel Yell, an award-winning official student newspaper of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, on October 7, 2010

by Sarah Shaw 

Living with medicinal assistance accepted, not dying

“I am ill and I am in pain. Every day is a struggle just to live, and I am a burden on all of my family and friends. I don’t want to live anymore, it is my life and I have a right to die. I am too weak to do it on my own. Please, help me.”

This is the plea of many who are terminally ill. This pleas has lead to a struggle in morality for America.

So many people are outraged at the idea that this could be acceptable to someone; they call it “playing God.”

When were we given the right to not only take our own life but help someone else take their life?

I can see where people with this stance are coming from; I too see all human life as valuable. I tend to be on the fence about the morality of suicide. But I lean toward the logic that since you did not create yourself, you should not decide when it is your time.

But in regards to assisted suicide, it is equally wrong to force someone to live.

You see, we cannot as a society say that killing ourselves or someone else is playing God, when in fact the only reason many of us are alive is because we have already chosen to play God.

We have created medicine and machines that keep people alive way longer than they really should be alive.

You cannot take a person dying of cancer (who would have already been dead if it weren’t for the chemotherapy they received) and force them to live like that.

America will never stop playing God; nothing about our lifespan is natural anymore.

If a person would die without medical assistance, they have the right to have medical assistance to die.

All this discussion on the subject reminds me of the famous Terri Schiavo case that lasted from 1998 to 2005.

After two months, they raised her condition to “vegetative state.”

The big issue in Schiavo’s case was that she could not eat because she was not conscious. They fed her constantly with a feeding tube.

The fight started when her husband wanted to pull the feeding tube and let her die, saying that she would not want to live under these conditions.

Her parents argued she was conscious and wanted her to be kept alive.

This case was an important one and Schiavo couldn’t decide her fate for herself.

Like so many people, she was kept alive by the hospital, so by pulling her feeding tube, they were only letting what should have happened take its course.

Even though I value human life, I believe that keeping people alive who don’t want to be living is worse than letting them die naturally.

It’s worse than even helping them die because they are in pain. We aren’t meant to live as long as we are living.

The subject of assisted suicide could easily move into the subject of overpopulation, but I won’t go there.

We as a society just need to see this from a logical point of view.

Few people in this world really want others to die.

People never want to say goodbye to the ones that they love and care about, and our human nature so many times hears tragedy and says “that could have happened to me.”

That is as true as it is sad. I am all for compassion and sympathy and helping people in the world in general, but America’s view on assisted living is far more problematic than our view of assisted suicide.


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