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Medically Assisted Suicide: Morality or Legality?

You have a right to end your life. At least, that is according to the US government. Currently, it is not illegal to attempt suicide in the United States and in most of Europe, though you may face repercussions if you fail. This makes you wonder about medically assisted suicide.

As of now, 44 states consider assisted suicide illegal, yet these states won’t prosecute someone if they fail in committing suicide. What’s the difference?

Opponents of medically assisted suicide argue that legalizing it will lead to eventually legalizing non-consensual euthanasia. Not only is this an unfounded slippery slope, but it’s quite ridiculous considering the circumstances. There is a big difference between ending someone’s life without their consent, and simply following their own wishes. If a person wants to kill themselves, then who are we to stop them?

Another common argument is that everyone can get the help needed to end the suffering. When I hear this, I like to picture the government as a sort of overprotective mother who claims that, “I know better than you do”. The only difference between the government and this overprotective mother, however, being that the mother would know your individual case better than the government ever could. Let’s pretend that 99% of people wanting to receive a doctor’s help in committing suicide could end their suffering if they simply talked to a medical professional instead. Good for them. I would hope that they talk to the right people to end their suffering, and that they would continue living as a happy and healthy human. But what about the other 1%? The people who, no matter how many professionals they talk to, can’t get their suffering to end. How dare the government tell that person that we know better and prolong that person’s agony? It is not our right to infringe on other people’s rights and tell them that what we are doing is for their own good, even though the person is part of the percentage that can’t be helped. It’s the exact opposite of how our justice system was formed. We would rather let 1000 guilty men go free than see 1 innocent man go to jail. Our laws regarding medically assisted suicide should be similar. That 1 innocent man reflects that 1 man whose suffering will not end, no matter the treatments. He should have his rights, and who are we to say otherwise.

“Suicide is the most selfish thing a person can do. It hurts those around you and many whom you will never meet”. I have heard this many times, and, while I once agreed with it, I now see the difficulty that such a statement produces. Every day, humans commit actions that harm those around them and many that they will never meet. Drinking soda, for example, hurts those around you because it increases your chances of disease and death. Not only do these things cause emotional pain to those around you, it also causes financial pain. Taxes go to helping these people when they suffer from preventable diseases that wouldn’t exist if we took away their right to drink soda. Yet, we don’t. We don’t because we realize that people have the right to drink soda even though it will bring harm to those around them, just like we should realize that people have the right to medically assisted suicide even though it will bring injury to those around them. This is America, land of the free. Give people their freedom.

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