Assisted Suicide: Empowering or Unethical?

Ruqia Duale
Aug 12 · 4 min read

Assisted suicide is considered one of the most controversial issues out there that still is debatable among the general public. Assisted suicide can be defined as someone who chooses to end their life with the help of another person most often a healthcare professional. Normally these types of decisions are made by patients who are diagnosed with a terminal illness and would ultimately prefer to end their suffering on their terms. It’s no secret that not many people see eye to eye with this type of a decision, especially when it is in regards to a healthcare provider whose sole job is to keep people alive and healthy. Some people may sometimes not know what really happens when patients make such decisions and the procedure they have to go through. For example, not all people can qualify if they have any mental deficiencies, such as dementia and Alzheimer's. The following video shows a patient who has made the decision to end their life.

This patient’s decision was not based on the fact that he had a terminal illness or was suffering from a deadly disease, it was merely for the fact that he preferred to end his life in dignity and to ultimately pass on with his family around him.

Not all patients have the same midset when it comes to making a decion like this.

Which bring me to my next point about a woman named Noreen Nowicki who was a patient that was diagnosed with ALS, a deadly disease, and had chosen to die on her own terms with dignity. However, her decision came with many obstacles that she and her family had to go through in order to fulfil her wishes. In her pursuit of medically-assisted death, Noreen had faced many trials and tribulations that took a toll on her and her loved ones. Noreen felt as though she and her family were not treated properly due to the decision that she made and based on the facility in which she stayed at was a Catholic health care provider called, Covenant Health. Who don’t believe in the act of suicide, which therefore clouded their care for her and made her feel immoral almost.

Photo by Cristian Newman on Unsplash

With so much of her physical strength being drained day by day, Noreen had little to no room for error with her decision. Eventually, after many discussions and long hours, Noreen was transferred to a different facility to receive her procedure because her current facility was not going to approve it for her due to the religious aspect. This ultimately made her feel worse because part of her wishes was to die in that room that she stayed at for quite some time. For most people, this is their way of receiving care which ultimately brings them happiness.

People have a right to believe what they want to believe and do what they want to do we are in no place to judge them.

If this is what the person thinks is best for them in terms of their health then who are we to deny them of that. While reading the story of Noreen, it really brings to question that type of care that some people receive based on who they are or what they choose and how that affects the judgement and quality of care form the healthcare providers.

The oppositions of these procedures don’t end there, in fact, another really important issue is the lack of accessibility. According to Ronald Dworkin who wrote in “Assisted Suicide: The Philosopher’s Brief” in the New York Review of Books in March 1997 says “the current two-tier system — a chosen death and the end of pain outside the law for those with [medical] connections and stony refusals for most other people — is one of the greatest scandals of contemporary medical practice.” Most people don't alway’s get approved for these procedures, and if you are then a majority of it won’t be an easy journey given Noreen Nowicki’s situation.

Photo by Alex Boyd on Unsplash

In conclusion, assisted suicide is definitely an issue that is highly important and crucial with regards to patient care and the quality of it. There is never a one-sided view on things, we should be considering the different angles in order to have a glimpse of what the other person may be suffering and why they are making this decision. Some may say it is a little unconventional but we need to start seeing health care in a different aspect and not see death as always a bad thing.

To some, it brings them a sense of peace that they haven't felt in a long time. Our jobs, especially as health care providers, are to respect their wishes and to not judge their values and beliefs.

Ruqia Duale

Written by

Striving Nursing student. I am Somali-Canadian-Muslim. Proud owner of a pet monkey!

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