Supreme Court:Physician Assisted Suicide Unlawful: What is Your Opinion of the Decision?

On Thursday, June 26, 1997 the U.S. Supreme Court turned down the previous Circuit Court decisions and upheld the laws of New York and Washington state that made it a crime for doctors to provide the drugs to mentally competent but terminally ill patients in order to assist them in their desire to end their lives. The Supreme Court held that there was no Constitutional right to physician-assisted suicide.

Here is the question:

What is your opinion about the Supreme Court decision?

If you have an answer (or another question), click HERE and e-mail me a response.

Date: Sun, Jan 25, 2004 5:03 PM From: Dollardaisy27@aol.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

"If you have the right to live, you have the right to die.If you have the right to live, but not the right to die, then you don't really have any choice at all." A wise man once said

Date: Sat, May 3, 2003 7:44 PM From: bendowse@justinternet.com.au To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I think it all boils down to money. I strongly believe that quite a few political decisions are based on civil rights vs corporate profits, and unfortunately in a lot of cases the corporate profits win over the civil rights.

And no, I do NOT think that any corporate bureaucrats will have ANY right whatsoever to dictate to me what will happen to me when I am suffering a painful terminal illness.

I will choose my own form of death without any physician assistance, just like they did in the old days, when you simply tricked a doctor into scripting for barbiturates because the newer sleep medications didn't work. I remember speaking to a friend, and his father died back in 1981 and his mother in 1985, an old friend of mine I met in the right-to-die movement who had a terminally ill father. He was on chloral hydrate and glutethimide and also Valium and still he could not sleep properly, so he eventually talked a physician into writing a script for Tuinal and then Seconal, and he stockpiled these lethal drugs until he had enough for both him and his wife (two bottles). It took him about a month to do this, on two occasions, the first occasion 60 Tuinals, the second occasion 60 Seconals. He took the Seconals and passed away peacefully 4 hours later, and he left the Tuinals for his wife so that when she became ill she would have the privilege of ending her life when she was in hopeless pain. He knew that his wife didn't have long to go, she was 82 and suffering the very early stages of alzheimers. Well, she took her Tuinals (in my honest opinion a gift from her husband) - four years later she dissolved the sleeping pills in apricot jam, took it, and she died peacefully within the hour.

Nobody, absolutely NOBODY has the right to dictate to people when and how they die, unless they're being executed under the death penalty.

Also, on top of that, barbiturates should be downgraded to schedule-4 medications, not schedule-2. No, I'll change that, barbiturates should be sold OTC in small quantities (let's say, a pack of 4 capsules, etc for insomnia - pharmacist only so they can't be sold in grocery stores etc and only in chemists and the person must ask the pharmacist for the pills - they won't be sold on the shelves like aspirin etc). That way, people can eventually stockpile barbiturates until they have an adequate amount to effect a fatal dose.

Regards, Benjamin.

Date: Tue, Apr 8, 2003 7:17 AM From: peytonbryan@hotmail.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

Dear Doktor Mo, As a sophomore nursing student, that has worked for 10 + years with an excellent Crital Care Specialist, I would like to comment on this subject. I have seen this situation countless times.

In my opinion, where long dibilatating dieases (like cancer) are concerned the families, alot of time are wellprepared to make their decisions. Alot of the time, the family has been made aware of the patient's desires long before the time to decide has come. My comment is this: What disheartens me the most is when a family and patient have made this difficult decision, to have a Nurse or Social Worker interject their contridicting beliefs. Mostly done for the religious reasons. I feel that IF a nurse can not support the family and patients decision, that at the very least, they should remain quiet. Or perhaps, even request a different assignment.

On the other hand, I have seen family members wanting a patient intubated and sustained, simply because the Will was being questioned. The patient was sceamiang in pain that couldn't be controlled from Metastatic Cancer. The entire estate was not worth 15,000. This I think is sad. I was proud when my employer, very calmly told this family NO, and said that they would have to get another MD to do it. Thanks for listening.

Peyton Bryan, SN

Date: Mon, Mar 31, 2003 10:17 AM From: dksfam@btconline.net To: DoktorMo@aol.com

Our country prides itself on respecting the rights and views of the individual. To not have passed this seems contradictory. Personally, I don't feel I need to ok anything regarding my body with anyone and feel just as strong about the fact I don't need to justify my beliefs for doing so. Patients have the right to refuse treatment...people 21 years of age and older all have the right to drink themselves into oblivion...what is the difference in an individual reserving the right to die?..my view...there isn't one.

Date: Tue, Feb 4, 2003 2:24 PM From: mustangshelly129@hotmail.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

Personally I think that physician assisted suicide is a fancy name for murder. or its assisting suicide they mine as well give the patint a gun and say shoot. wether they inject him with a poison or give him a gun to me there is no differnce. they don't understand that death is everlasting but life is not.

Date: Mon, Dec 23, 2002 8:01 AM From: moharrisiii@hotmail.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

Well, I answered another question earlier(Transfer of records), so I thought I'd give this a whirl. It seems to be a popular question, judging from the number of responses. I'm not familiar with the details of the Supreme Court ruling. But from bits & pieces, including your website, I have the following views:

First, the Court only decided that nobody has an enforceable right to assisted suicide-- and simply because of this alone, laws "could" be written to make medical assisted suicide illegal. One very obvious reason is that you can't demand or force a doctor(or others) to be an assistant. That's pretty simple, and it's obviously correct. You might have "a right to die", but not to demand an assistant. Therefore, you don't have a guaranteed right to assisted suicide. This also means that States or the Federal government "might" pass laws prohibiting assisted suicide; and simply because nobody has a right to assisted suicide, these laws might not be unconstitutional. But it still doesn't mean that all such laws are automatically constitutional and legal-- they might or might not be, depending on each individual law. It would depend on whether a specific law violated individual rights & freedoms that are established in the constitution, or in other hard-core established laws. The Supreme Court may not have decided very much, except the obvious-- that assisted suicide isn't a constitutional right(which anybody can figure out without a court of any kind). But I do think the court made a strategic mistake. I think it made an inaduate ruling, even though it's ruling may be legally correct. Apparently, after deciding that there is no constitutional right, it simply didn't go any further, and decided to let the laws of New York and Washington stand. Without knowing exactly how it made this ruling, I'm only guessing that the court "chickened out", and decided to assume the legality of New York and Washington state. The Supreme Court has the discretionary authority to do this-- to simply "find fault" of some kind with a lower court ruling, reverse the ruling, and not make an entirely new ruling of their own. They can simply leave things the way they were. I'm also not familiar with the state laws in NY & Wash. They may have made assisted suicide illegal in a simple & straightforward way, or they may have outlawed drugs or other things a doctor might use. Regardless, I think it's a legal mistake on the part of the Supreme Court, and not just a ruling that some would morally object to.

There are many laws that exist, or laws that can be written to obstruct assisted suicide. Drug laws or gun laws are good examples. Laws, or laws that can be written, can outlaw the use of drugs except for specific uses. Assisted suicide can be excluded from the legal uses, or specified as an illegal use. In other words, the methods used for assisted suicide can be made illegal for such a use. This can "indirectly or effectively outlaw" assisted suicide, without declaring medical assisted suicide itself to be a crime. Attorney General John Ashcroft apparently tried this approach to obstruct the Oregon law that permits assisted suicide. Assisted suicide can also be obstructed by defining it as a suicide only when the person who commits suicide physically carries out the procedure, and murder when an assistant carries it out. As long as the patient "pushed the buttons" on Kevorkian's suicide machine, Jack was O.K. But when Jack pushed the buttons, Jack went to jail!!! Even when the patient requested this, it was ruled murder, not assisted suicide.

So the real question is-- could(or should) the actual act of doctor assisted suicide, or suicide assisted by anybody be illegal? Should it be legal or illegal "in and of itself", irrespective of the methods used(such as drugs). I like this question because I think it might be answered in a legally rational way. To me, it seems that the laws that govern assisted suicide should be the laws that govern suicide. If you assist in a suicide, then you are an accomplice to the act of suicide. If you assist in a suicide where suicide is legal, then you would be an accomplice to a legal act, and you should not be legally guilty of anything; at least not rationally. If you assisted in a suicide where suicide is illegal, then you would be an accomplice to an illegal act, and therefore guilty of an illegal act. The seriousness of your crime should depend on the seriousness of suicide as an illegal act. Wherever(or whenever) suicide is legal, it's a serious and idiotic inconsistency in the law for assisted suicide to be a major crime-- that an accomplice to a legal act is guilty of a crime. I don't know of a single "behavioral act", where an accomplice or simple assistant is guilty of a major felony, while the primary planner and perpetrator is 100% innocent of everything, and the act is a legal act(What if an attempted suicide fails?? Is the person who attempted it totally innocent because suicide is legal, while the "assistant" goes to prison because assisted suicide is not legal??)!!! A legal system with conflicts in law such as this is a legal system guaranteed "not able to figure anything out"!!! ASSISTED SUICIDE AND SUICIDE ARE THE VERY SAME ACT, DONE WITH OR WITHOUT AN ASSISTANT OR ACCOMPLICE!!! SO, THE LAW SHOULD BE THE SAME FOR BOTH!! But, if nobody made this argument before the Supreme Court, then the court may not have considered such a thing. So if you want a guarantee of legal assisted suicide, with rational and enforceable laws, then suicide must be legal, and it should be clearly defined as a relatively unconditional right!! The laws concerning assisted suicide would then be easier to make. They could be more clear and well defined. But currently, while suicide is not a felony in most or all states, assisting in the suicide of another is a serious criminal offense. This is because suicide is not a right, even though it may not be illegal-- There's a difference between something that simply "isn't illegal", and making it a legal right.

Historically, suicide was once a felony in most or all states. By my best knowledge(And my best knowledge isn't sure, and so it should be double checked), suicide laws were abolished in some states, and made a misdemeanor in others. It may no longer be a felony anywhere in the U.S.-- and once again, I'm not sure. But it's still not a formally defined right. It(suicide, and not assisted suicide) needs to be established as "a right of the individual". And it needs to be a fairly absolute or arbitrary right, not dependent on the approval of others, and mostly dependent on a person "knowing the consequences of their acts". Otherwise, assisted suicide laws can't make good sense, and assisted suicide will be subject to obstructions and all kinds of red tape. Even though assisted suicide can't be a legal right, the fact that you can't "demand" an assistant should be the only reason. Once a few simple conditions are met-- (1)That a person "know the consequences of the act", (2)That the decision was not made under manageable duress(duress that can and will be removed), and (3)That the assistant is a volunteer-- then assisted suicide should be legal.

Suicide(not assisted suicide) can be a individual right and still be consistent with the most basic existing laws. For example: Law enforcement officers(and others) could still intervene to prevent an attempted suicide on the grounds of saving human life, with probable cause that the act "may" be irrational. BUT, once it is determined that the person can meet simple requirements-- That they know the consequences of their acts, AND that any involved duress is unmanageable(or will not likely be managed)-- then the person could not be held indefinitely or incarcerated against their will, and they could not be obstructed unreasonably in suicide.

If suicide is established as an arbitrary individual right, it could be done much more openly. It could be done for any number of reasons, not just purely medical reasons(Romeo and Juliet had reasons, and neither had medical reasons). Suicide should be established in clear-cut laws as an individual human right. After this is done(and not before) the legality of assisted suicide will follow automatically. Many people might object to this, because people could decide on suicide for any number of reasons. But unless it becomes a right, then assisted suicide laws are likely to be confused and not uniform. They will not be easily administered, and they will be easy to obstruct. For those who like assisted suicide only in hopeless medical scenarios, but who can't accept suicide for any reason as a right, all I have to say is: "If you can't smoke the whole cigar, then don't light up!!". To me, suicide and assisted suicide are legally inseparable. The law should be consistent for both. Suicide(and not just assisted suicide as a special case) should be established first as the basic law that determines the legality of both.

As of 2002, as far as I know, assisted suicide for approved medical reasons is being deliberated only as a special case of an act that is a major felony in many states(assisting in the suicide of another), even where unassisted suicide itself is not necessarily illegal(but it's still not a right!). This will continue to be a dilemma as long as suicide is not established as a legal right-- and such a strong right that assisted suicide is automatically legal as long as it's the decision of the person who commits suicide, and those who volunteer to assist(and the assistant would not need to be a doctor, plus the reasons would not need to be medical.). In other words, "If you can't smoke the whole cigar, then don't light up!!!". M O Harris III

Date: Fri, Nov 29, 2002 9:19 PM From: kgmonty@texoma.net To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I know this is a little late, but my response is for Lindsey the senior in high school. You have not yet experienced life or death situations around you. You oppose the issue of PAS although you have not watched the terminally ill sink deeper and deeper in an oblivion. You have not stood beside a dying mother who has cancer and can't decide what is better, to try with her last bit of strength to hold her child while she feels like crying out in agony because there isn't enough pain medicine to help, or lay there and want to with all her might. As a young person who was just in a bad accident with a brain injury who may never come off a respirator or if they do possible have the function of a baby, what would you hope to do. Even as a religious person you have to consider the value of life rather then just breathing. A person should have the right to live and die with dignity. It takes a lot of time to exam all of the facts and you have to come up with your own point of view. The only thing I ask is that you visit a long term care facility or a hospital before you do. Even after that, if you still are against it the decision of ones fate should not be put into the hands of a politician who is only worried about image not a person. No one person is ever important to a suite. Their votes mean more to them then the lives of the suffering.


Date: Tue, Nov 12, 2002 5:02 PM From: Lizzyd34@aol.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I think that patients should have the right to say whether they want to live or die in these types of situations. why would anyone what to live their lives suffering and having to see their families suffer for them? i don't understand what is wrong with saying that you are tired of going through so much pain and you would like to be with God. some people may not believe in God and may use the religion factor as an excuse to vote against this law. I don't think that it has anything to do with it. Even though I am an eighth grader, I do think that people should have the right to say they do not want to live anymore if they are suffering.

Sincerely, Elizabeth

Date: Tue, Oct 8, 2002 5:15 AM From: winstonjen@yahoo.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

The anti-euthanasia/assisted suicide people don't care about the person in suffering. Why? It's very simple - 99% of their 'arguments' focus on the moral aspect, NOT the person in suffering. As far as I know, they care more about being seen as morally correct than anything else. They also want the terminally ill to stay alive - for their own happiness - not the happiness of the one in suffering. It also seems that they've never heard of the phrase, "When you love someone, set them free." Another thing that makes no sense in the law is how if you don't euthanise a pet, you get jailed for cruelty. Yet if you do the same for a human being, you get jailed. Why? Religious bigots forcing their views on everyone whether it was their business or not! The trick is to die when you want to die. It's tragic when these people become too weak to commit suicide by themselves, and they need help, but they can't get help because of the legal issues. This motivates other people in a similar situation to commit suicide before they lose the ability to do it alone, so they end up dying earlier. Anti-euthanasia right-to-life (who actually advocate a DUTY to life) bigot bastards also support slavery, because they're telling people that their life is not their own. Hmm. Didn't Abraham Lincoln abolish that foolishness centuries ago?

Sincerely, Winston Jen

DoktorMo@aol.com 2 5:15 AM

Date: Wed, Sep 18, 2002 6:58 PM From: rkm@mynewroads.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I feel the Supreme Court was wrong in this case. As long as the patient is mentally competent, then the decision should be left up to the patient to ask for physician-assisted suicide. Government is too obtrusive in our lives as it is. They assume, in too many cases, they know what it best for the citizens of the U.S. To begin with, if I had a terminal illness, I would not want my family to suffer along with my suffering while I waste away. Secondly, if I had unrelenting pain that medication could not suppress, then I want that decision to die early. Why should I have to suffer when I will end up dying soon any way. This is a personal decision for the patient to make. Terminal illnesses take a toll on the patient as well as the patient.

Date: Sat. Sep 7, 2002 2:39 PM From: KMTDT1@aol.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

That's totally rediculous. it's our body and you should be able to decide what your gonna do with it.and what about religious freedom, some people do'nt believe in pro longing another's life because God gave us each are own and it's to stay are own.even if you are'nt religous you should be allowed to keep that right. freedom of choice is all anyone really has and if it's taken away what's the point of life. the spirit of America which is so grand,so free is taken away.

Date: Thu, Jun 20, 2002 9:36 AM From: Rebecca2916@aol.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com



Date: Fri, Jun 7, 2002 7:28 PM From: richpat@mwt.net To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I think it was wrong. People need dignity in death as well as living. Life without quality is worse tha death

Date: Thu, May 2, 2002 9:03 PM From: brandt_softball_gal_10@hotmail.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

Dear Dr. Mo, My name is Lindsey Kjenstad, I am a senior at Deuel High School in Clear Lake, South Dakota. Recently in Mrs. Lundbergís Advanced Biology class we have been discussing topics of importance involving BioethicsThe topic I am interested in and chose to make a webquest on is Physician Assisted Suicide. I concentrated on the debate over legalization and the moral standpoint. Personally, I do not believe that it should be legalized nationally, or in any state for that matter. The decision of whether a person is to live or die should not be in the hands of another human being. Even if this is a qualified doctor, the patientís family, or the patient himself, death should happen naturally, not by human interference. Allowing death to be induced upon a person is not moral. I am strongly against Physician Assisted Suicide and do not believe that it is right in any circumstance.

Date: Thu, Apr 17, 2002 11:36 PM From: happyphntm@juno.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

It irritates me to see that people are constantly using religion as an answer. Not everyone believes in the same pantheon, so when you try and use it on a non believer, your argument will get you nowhere. Separation of Church and State, this includes the subject of assisted suicide. Everyone has the right to choose life or death and it should be left at that. Or should we all just agree with the bulls**t that society tells us is right and wrong? No, if we did the lives we lead now would be so utterly colorless and ugly. The freedom of choice is what makes us what we are. If humans weren't so uptight and scared of death, this wouldn't even be an issue. You can argue that it's "just not morally correct." But for some it's plain fear. Get over it, death happens to us all. You can argue "it's against the Lord's wishes." Get off your self-righteous high horse and remember not everyone believes in God. So yes, I believe in assisted suicide and that it should be legalized.


Date: Thu, Feb 21, 2002 7:30 AM From: willthomas@ntlworld.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

In the UK there has recently been a high profile case of a lady who is terminally ill fighting for her right to commit suicide with the assistence of her husband (she is unable to do so without his help). She wants him to receive an indemnity from prosecution if he helps her. The fight has gone through various courts in the UK with some levels deciding in her favour and other deciding against her. I wonder whether what anyone else thinks of this cases. Specifically, does it matter that in this case it is not her doctor assisting her? Does it make a difference that it is her husband?

In my opinion, the case of the husband assisting might be less problematic for this reason: Although both the doctor and the husband are being asked to commit the same act, the doctor has a professional commitment not to harm his patients (under the Hypocratic oath). Whilst I realise that there is also a professional commitment to prevent suffering (and this might be why we find this subject so difficult to resolve) this does not extend to ending the life of his/her patient directly. Of course indirect actions are another story but this would warrant another discussion (on the theory of double effect).

Date: Tue, Feb 12, 2002 2:09 PM From: ady@netcarrier.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

If a physician refuses to participate in euthanizing a patient, his decision may fall between two categories: 1) he feels it is morally wrong to assist in an accelerated death, or 2) he will not participate because of the legal ramifications should he be caught assisting the patient. In my opinion, those who are against assisted suicide or the acceleration of the inevitable death process has never been with a terminally ill patient at the 'end stage' of any particular disease. Take the lingering death from Cancer as an example. The patient is diagnosed, no means to save their life, and the prognosis of 4 months to live will be eased by pain medication usually referred to as 'comfort measures.' I have seen these deaths first hand as a Hospice Caretaker. A prolonged death is nothing that anyone would want to watch. The patient deteriorates both physically and mentally. The pain, no matter how well controlled, is usually uncontrollable. You watch the patient whine with pain. You witness the pain and suffering and pray they get some form of relief, knowing there is nothing you can do about it. You watch a 200 pound person melt away into an 85 pound person right in front of your eyes. You hear their cries for help and their pleas to stop the pain - and you can do nothing. You stand-by and call someone into the room to help you as the patient has lost bowel and bladder control. You need help when their mind is gone from pain; or from the cancer spreading to their brain and eating away at their intellect; or when they need so much medication to ease their pain that it takes their minds. They may start stripping off their clothes in front of you as the weight of a tee shirt is unbearable on their cancer riddled bodies. I could go on in length - these are just a few visuals for you to consider. Watch this scenario for just one week and those of you against Jack Kevorkian and we who advocate assisted suicide will quickly join our ranks. Why is it that we give such humane treatment to an animal that needs to be put down from cancer, a broken leg, a breathing disorder or kidney failure? Should the human being be given less compassion than an animal? If the vet tells you that your dog has only 6 months to live from tumors throughout his body - will you opt to watch him and take care of him over the next 6 months or will you tell the vet to put him to sleep? Why do we make the decision to put the pet down - because we can't stand to see them suffer?? Why then would we choose to have our loved one linger those same 6 months?? Dont we feel the same compassion towards them?? Maybe the question should be - why do we want someone we love to suffer a lingering, debilitating death and watch them lose their intellect, dignity and control?? Are we against hastening the end of life for a terminal patient because it is legally and morally wrong - or is it because we want to hang on to them as long as we can?? Let's start asking why are we being so selfish and inconsiderate!


Date: Sat, Feb 2, 2002 2:19 PM From: withee.or@juno.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

Docter assisted suicide goes against everything that I have ever learned. I am only an 8th grader but I believe strongly that a docter can choose whether or not he thinks it's right. If he doesn't, they can't ask him to kill someone. Because that's what he would be doing; killing. It is a sin to commit suicide whether you're doing it yourself or having it done by a docter. Any person in their right mind would not kill someone even if they asked him to. The docter has a responsibility to save lives, not end them.

Date: Thu, Jan 24, 2002 5:17 PM From: mannix@sover.net To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I am doing a persuasive essay on this topic of assisted suicide. I think that assisted suicide should be permitted. Everyone thinks that death is a terrible thing, and really it isn't. When I am old and dying I will want someone to assist my suicide so that I will not have to suffer. I think that people know when their time to die is, and so if they do want to die, but doctors are keeping them alive, I think that they should perscribe or inject something. This is only my opinion, but I do believe in it.

Date: Wed, Jan 2, 2002 11:26 AM From: priscillamrichardson@mediaone.net To: DoktorMo@aol.com

My position is that first...physicians have responsibility to provide quality of LIFE...not quality death...by assisting suicide patients...they go against their oath "to do no harm"...second...individuals who continue to live may find peace...resolution and set examples to family and others of "good death"...pain and suffering is not reason enough to end life...(my position). thanks.

Date: Fri, Dec 28, 2001 7:53 AM From: hagge.rob@sympatico.ca To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I have just been reading over the decisions that the Supreme Court of the USA has had to say in regards to this question, they to a point have agreed that a person has the right to choose the way that they live their lives.

It is important to remember, that when a terminally ill patient has seeked a doctors advice about assisted suicide, they have thought that their quality of life will have diminished to a point where their loved ones will see a mere shell of what they were!

I had a friend that died of AIDS, more than eight years ago, and if he had decided to end his life I would not have stood in the way of his right to choose. He went from being a vibrant individual, who was involved in the community in which he lived to a person that could no longer look after himself.

As his health declined, so did his personality and everything that he was, it was not easy for him or his family and friends to see what was happening to him as an individual, and I heard many times that he just wanted it to be over and when he finally died, I thought to myself that I was glad that he is no longer suffering and that he is in a better place.

I wished that at some point that he had spoke to a doctor to end his life. If that is the decision that he made, the more power to him. He did not speak to his doctor regarding this subject due to his faith, but had he, no one would have stood in his way!

If I were faced with the same prospect, than I would ask the my doctor to assisted in my death, knowing that my quality of life would be nothing than a mere shell of myself. I have been blessed with great friends and family and they would stand by whatever decision that I would make on this subject and God willing I will live to a ripe old age as my ancestors have but if that is not the case, than I would like to be the one to make the choice as to how my life is completed.

Date: Fri, Dec 14, 2001 4:41 PM From: genesproul@webtv.net To: DoktorMo@aol.com

For many years I've puzzled over the thinking processes that seem to compel some very intelligent and powerful people to prevent the alleviation of unnecessary suffering and/or deny sensual pleasure to others where there is no apparent personal benefit or loss to the prohibitionist. I realize that most are "motivated" (if that's the right word) by religious "convictions" (if that is the right word) and/or some self-validated "insight" (if that's the right word) into what the future holds for mankind (or at least their own society) unless they instigate or prohibit certain actions. I assume there are other motivations, but I don't know what they could be.

I have been diagnosed with Kennedy"s disease, an inherited and less aggressive (but no less terminal) form of ALS. I would like to enjoy, as fully as possible, my life well beyond the point where I would have the ability to self-terminate my own life. But laws, ethics and definitions of sin being what they are, I must either kill myself while still able to do so, or risk going through a terrible, agonizing dying process.

I am aghast at any impedance of scientific research and/or development of cures for human ailments. I am also very concerned about abortion, cloning, eugenics, genetic manipulation, organ transplantation, the drug "war" and similar issues. I am not especially worried about overpopulation, global warming or various other doomsday prognostications.

So I have come to this site hoping I will find a forum for discovery, enlightenment and blowing my own horn.

Gene C. Sproul

Date: Wed, Dec 12, 2001 11:23 PM From: billlynn@denveronline.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I used to attend a Catholic school and I was one of the only students there who believed in euthanasia and physcian assisted suicide. There argument always was "Jesus died for us and suffered. we are supposed to live life as he did" I am a religious person, but i disagree with this statement. didnt jesus die to save us? to end our suffering? I believe that those who are trapped in the degrading state of being kept alive on life-support should have the right to a dignified and painless death.

Date: Wed, Dec 5, 2001 2:57 PM From: molls06999@hotmail.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

Hi. I found your website of opinions on assisted suicide when researching it for a speech debate topic for a class in school. I'm 16 years old.

I believe that nobody really has a point on the earth except to do more damage. I belive that nobody is perfect. Every human born is nature's attempt to make a perfect human being.

I read that in one of the repsonses to this, somebody wrote: if God wills you to die, then so be it. Nobody can choose to die. Only God can." And I disagree. The Bible says that everybody has free-will. Man was made to be just like God ever since Eve was tricked into eating the fruit from the Tree in God's Garden of Eden. That's when the Fall of Man began. God has no control over us anymore. Its your life and you do with it as you see fit. I believe that not everybody was put on this earth for a purpose, and that bad things happen to good people. And I don't believe that God will pull you through. Sometimes God tests you beyond your power to remain firm. When your that sick, you can think of nothing else to end your pain but death. Sometimes death is the only humanine answer. If they want to die-let them. Nobody's going to stop them-not even God.

People that are that sick fear only one thing-living with the un-livable. They dread each next injection to lessen their pain. They dread each more dollar they have to spend to stay alive one more day, but knowing they'll never get any better. They hate doctors, nurses, IVs, ERs, and family memebers standing around waiting for them to croak. The dread living. That's what we should be afraid of in life. Death cannot hurt you. Only life can. They dread leaving their familes without closure to their death. When you recieve assisted suicide, you know when that time will come. You know when the clock on the wall will tick your life away down to the very last second. And I envy all of you that know when you're time is gone. You have time to say goodbye. You have the thing that none of us have. You are lucky.

You have a terminal illness-you're not going to get better. That's what terminal means. It's over. If you've had it for a long time, life's hopeless. What are you living for? You're stripped of your dignity. You're too tired to make it. And people keep saying "Fight to live!" What if that "fight to live" takes more effort that you have. What if you're too tired to even start walking the path. The soul is strong but the body is weak. Until you are in the shoes of an termanilly ill patient, don't you dare tell them what to do. You have no clue what its like to live our your day wondering what's going to happen next. Don't judge people until you've stood in their shoes and walked in them until your feet get sore. Then make your decision.


Date: Mon, Nov 26, 2001 4:48 PM From: sharonfiola@home.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I am very much opposed to physician assisted suicide. Such an issue is against all that is ingrained in the code of ethics for those of us in the profession. We are not God, we as health professionals cannot in all conscious support an overt act of taking another's life. True story.... After WWII and into the fifties during the cold war, a woman lived on the border of what now is Romania, but then the USSR. The woman was severely impaired with Muscular Dystrophy and was to a degree mentally retarded. She was able to live in this small room over a restaurant due to someone helping her with ADLs daily. Her days were filled with discomfort and isolation except for one fact...her love of the Lord Jesus was without question. She was a beacon of patience and love and gentleness. The last 15 years or so of her life was a glory to Him. It was through her isolation, handicap both mentally and physically that she was able to smuggle into the USSR thousands upon thousands of Bibles which Christians within the USSR passed out to thousands of people starving for the Word of God far into the interior of Russia. Weekly, communist soldiers would search homes in this border city in an attempt to find the source of the smuggled Bibles that they would confiscate when found. Nothing of God was allowed within the USSR during those days. Due to the physical condition and isolation of this woman, her home was never searched as the soldiers never once thought that her home could be the source of the smuggling. It was for this purpose that God raised up this woman. Her handicap was a spiritually starving peoples' blessing. Let us not forget, we are not God, nor should we ever come close to pretending to be so. We humans know so little of eternal things. Physician assisted suicide is a misnomer. It is physician assisted murder. They have no right to decide who is worthy of life and who should be helped along the way to die.

Sharon Fiola, RN, CPHQ

Date: Thu, Nov 8, 2001 10:49 AM From: nhcc@mail.ncmc.edu To: DoktorMo@aol.com

There is no such thing as "assisted suicide." Suicide implies someone taking their own life; if another party provides the means for someone to kill themselves (e.g) "suicide" then is it still considered suicide or homicide? Physicians should not be in the "killing business", if they are, then they are no longer credible as healers and physicians, but as someone to be avoided at all costs.

Such was the scenario before Hippocrates, where terminal patients were afraid of physicians, lest they hurry their death. In our current society, why must it be the physician to "assist in suicide", you can train anyone to give a high dose of medication or whatever, it doesn't have to be a physician. Why not have "death technicians?" It is incongruous to me to have a trained physician, healer in the buisiness of "assisting people to kill themselves", make it the pervue of a "death specialist."

Date: Mon, Apr 16, 2001 12:39 PM From: tob985@yahoo.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I believe the Supreme Court was right in their decision to keep PAS illegal. I think that life can still have purpose even if you are stricken with a fatal disease or disability. Although taking care of that person can be a burden to their family, their worth far exceeds that. And a personal question...what is the Hippocratic Oath? Chris Kessler, SUNY Morrisville

Date: Sat, Feb 17, 2001 11:05 AM From: reddevil@cimtel.net To: DoktorMo@aol.com

Strictly speaking as a nurse and a Christian, and the mother of a doctor and a nurse, I don't feel this matter should ever have been brought before and Supreme Court in the first place. If anyone has ever nursed the dying , or observed Hospice in their duties, then they would recognize that is part of the profession of nursing and medicine, to care for the sick and dying, not to assist their death. I am of the belief that miracles can and do happen. I am 51 years and have been nursing for more than 30 years. My son is a surgeon and considers life to be as precious as I do. Thank you for your time. Great site! [Moderator's Note: Thanks for the compliment but it is the visitor participants who make the site what it is! ]

Date: Wed, Feb 14, 2001 5:19 PM From: Nathaniel41300@cs.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I think that it is up to the doctor and his comfort level to whether or not he would like to assist his patient. I don't think it is fair that a doctor be tried for assisting and following his patients' requests. If a will states "no life support," the doctor is obligated to honor the request and so it should be if the patient openly states his/her desire. It is hard to be in the position of knowing when to say when, but it is even harder to know that you are the one keeping the pain alive. Been there, done that and am confident that I made the right decision to let go of my son. It was obvious in his smile as he let go and it was the last decent thing I could have done for him.

Date: Tue, Feb 13, 2001 5:36 PM From: ekelse08@mailbox.stlawu.edu To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I most definitely disagree with the Supreme court decision to prohibit PAS. A competent patient has a right to make decisions regarding his or her own body. Suffering is not always just from pain,but also mental anguish: a feeling of being a burden on one's family and lack of hope for the future. Death is not a defeat but a release. "Relieving symptoms, enhancing control, and preserving dignity clearly take precedence over saving life(Dr.Timothy Quill). According to a survey done by the New England Journal of Medicine, 11 percent of doctors do PAS now, and 36 percent would if it were legal. It saddens me to think of all those who are suffering needlessly right now in the hopes that someone will answer their cries and allow them to be at peace.

~Erika Kelsey, Undergraduate Student, St. Lawrence University

Date: Mon, Jan 29, 2001 11:03 AM From: publicpc@library.ucla.edu To: DoktorMo@aol.com

On the one hand, PAS seems to undermine the sanctity of medicine whose goal is to preserve life. It also seems to lead us to the beginnings of a slippery slope. The decision to perform PAS or not seems such a subjective and individual decision, that isn't there much room for error? What if the patient changes his mind, but is too afraid to stop a process once it's already begun? On the other hand, how can kind doctors ignore the painful pleas of patients who have restled with this huge decision and have made the personal decision to end their life? With such a complex decision, I believe that the right belongs with the patient and not with the legal system.

Date: Sat, Nov 4, 2000 10:27 PM From: lmalesich@earthlink.net To: DoktorMo@aol.com

Dear Doktor Mo: A patient who is terminally ill and physically incapacitated, yet mentally competent, should have the right to physician assisted suicide. No person should be forced to live in terminal pain without hope of a healthy future. The law should not intervene, nor even be interested, in what should be a patient's choice regarding his own destiny. What kind of sense does it make to have politicians making individual choices for people who are completely capable of making their own choices about their own lifes. These politicians are not medical experts, so how are they even remotely qualified to make laws that govern a terminally ill patient's choice to live or to die?!!!

Tamara Hart Nursing Student

Date: Fri, Jun 30, 2000 1:26 PM From: JudyRN2b@aol.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I feel that a person should have the right to end their own life if they desire. Our country is all about rights. We have the right to bear arms, we have the right to freedom, we have the right to counsel, why should we not have the right to end our own life if we so choose.

Date: Fri, Jun 23, 2000 9:37 AM From: Catsully6543@aol.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

Pandoras Box will be opened if Physician-Assisted suicide were legalized. Where would it stop? The lives of the old, the weak and the disabled would become devalued if physician assisted suicide was legal. We would go from allowing it to be a doctor-client decision to simply a doctor or family decision. What if a newborn baby was born with severe defects, some defects that would impair the child for the rest of it's life? The family might then decide to euthanize the child because the child would not lead a quality life by society's standards.("mercy killing" is what the term euthanasia means.) No one wants to think about a scenario like this, however if we open Pandoras Box and allow physician-assisted suicide to become legal, a scenario similiar to this might very well happen in the years to come.

Date: Tue, Jun 6, 2000 3:37 PM From: Leebnick@aol.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I disagree with the Supreme Court decision against physician assisted suicide. I feel that a person who is mentally capable of making decisions should have the right to decide when he wants to die after it has been determined that there is no hope of recovery. I would like to think that when my time comes I could have that option.

Date: Tue, Mar 21, 2000 10:37 PM From: cinefacta@hotmail.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I'm not sure what precedent, if any, the Supreme Court used, in this decision, but the Hippocratic Oath, that golden ideal of the medical world, in quite clear language prohibits its takers from assisting patients in suicide. I feel that in certain cases, namely with terminally ill patients in severe pain that no medicine could alleviate, etc, doctor assisted suicide would be nothing short of a blessing. I feel that it should be the decision of the patient and the doctor whether or not to pursue a route or assisted suicide as a final end to a terrible pain, yet I believe the Supreme Court was quite right in its decision. Though physician assisted suicide could ease the pain of many dreadfully suffering patients, its legalization would create an entirely different set of problems. It would encourage bribery and corruption in the medical field from those who stood to gain from the death of a patient, and though these problems surely exist today , the legal sanction of the practice of physician assited suicide would make matters much worse. By making it easier to kill patients, and even legal under the cloak of physician assisted suicide, a new corrupt era of medicine would almost certainly evolve. So though I feel assisted suicide could be helpful, the Supreme Court had it right in declaring the practice unconstitutional.

Michael Stafford,University of South Carolina

Date: Sun, Mar 12, 2000 9:07 PM From: Bbusbee24@aol.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

The Hippocratic Oath reads as follows: “I will give no deadly medicine to anyone if asked, nor suggest such counsel…” The International Code of Ethics states as adopted by the World Medical Association in 1949, “a doctor must always bear in mind the obligation of preserving human life from the time of conception until death.” There are many plausible reasons to legalize Physician-Assisted Suicide, however, the Pandora’s box of loopholes and various other interpretations of legalized suicide held do not allow for its legalization. Depression which often occurs in the elderly, terminally ill, or disabled may lead them to desire suicide when in reality they may have many more happy weeks, months, or years ahead of them which is being cut short by a treatable illness. Life is a precious and rare commodity that should be treated with reverence and not dispatched with the Supreme Court’s wishes.

Brantley D. Busbee

Date: Sun, Mar 12, 2000 8:51 PM From: dongrant3@hotmail.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

Although I am personally against suicide, I am somewhat undecided on the issue. In one respect, I feel that it is wrong for a person to take the life of another. This is probably due to my Christian beliefs and moral upbringing that killing is wrong. I feel that because God is the creator of a human being, He should be the one who takes away the life of one. This agrees with the Hippocratic Oath, which permits no form of physician assisted suicide. In another respect, however, I feel that it may be used only in certain harsh circumstances. In times of extreme suffering when a person is definitely going to die, this killing could be the best form of help for the patient because of the misery they will prevent themselves from going through. We must also remember that the more we allow something to go on, the more numb we grow to it. It is probably for the best that the Supreme Court passed this law so that the importance of human life is not taken for granted.

Date: Sun, Mar 12, 2000 7:58 PM From: amhames@hotmail.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

The Supreme Court recently ruled Physician-assisted Suicide illegal. The purpose of the Supreme Court is solely to uphold the United States Constition - not to be our moral authority. In the context of our Constitution, the Supreme Court acted justly by ruling this assistance unconstitutional. The Constitution is born of the proposition that all legitimate governments must secure the equal rights of every person to "Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness." The 14th Amendment provides that no state shall "deprive any person of life." The Court's ruling states that although a competent person might make an informed and voluntary choice to have hydration and nutrition withdrawn, the state has an interest in preserving life and demanding clear and convincing evidence of the patient's wishes. When a doctor swears by the Hippocratic Oath upon his or her graduation from medical school, the right to give a deadly drug, even if asked to do so, is relinquished. When entering the medical profession, a doctor pledges from the Declaration of Geneva and says, "I will maintain the utmost respect for human life from its beginning even under threat and I will not use my medical knowledge contrary to the laws of humanity." In this case, according to the Supreme Court, the laws of humanity are found in the United States Constitution.

Date: Sun, Mar 12, 2000 7:10 PM From: Jdtaylor20@aol.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

My personal opinion is that physician-assisted suicide is not unethical in most cases. The Supreme Court should not be the party to determine whether a terminally ill and suffering patient's life is worth living. A Supreme Court would, however, be acceptable had there been standards set outlining what constituted a terminally ill and suffering patient. Yet, this is an idealistic proposal. Too many complications and exceptions would result in today's society. I, therefore, feel the court should be uninvolved in such an issue. I also feel that the Hippocratic Oath should not be used as support for an argument against physician-assisted suicide. At the time of the Oath's writing, this practice, as well as abortion and self-imposed suicide were not considered criminal acts. Under the right circumstances, it was accepted with no disgrace toward the physician or patient. The attitude that physician-assisted suicide was unethical came from a small faction of thinkers, the Pythagoreans, that represented a minority in Greek society. This condemnation was supported more with the rise of Christianity years later, and the Oath was altered as a result. THe Hippocratic Oath, therefore, should not be a factor in this issue.

Date: Sun, Mar 12, 2000 6:39 PM From: jkbyrd13@hotmail.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

My personal belief is that physician-assisted suicide is not a right that someone has, because only God has the right to end a life. However, because I lost a grandfather to cancer, I can certainly understand the debate over the subject.

One subject being debated is whether or not the Hippocratic Oath prohibits physician-assisted suicide. The second promise made in the Oath is not to give a "fatal draught to anyone if I am asked." The debate is whether or not this prohibits helping the terminally ill die or was just something to help patients trust their physicians. The general opinion of the public when the Oath was written was for physician-assisted suicide and abortion as means of population control. Therefore, that segment of the Oath was probably written to assure the public that they would not use their knowledge of poisons to harm others.

However, one of the most important sections of the Oath is the promise of the doctor not to harm anyone. Would the doctor be helping or harming by assisting in suicide? That is not something that can be answered by medicine, it is an ethical question that will never have an undisputed answer.

My opinion on the Supreme Court ruling on physician-assisted suicide is that it is acceptable. However, for it to be constitutional it must be based on the Hippocratic Oath rather than morals or religion; church and state are separated in our country. If we find in the future that the Hippocratic Oath does not reflect ethics of the day, then we as a society will have to re-examine the ruling on physician-assisted suicide.

Ken Byrd, USC student

Date: Sun, Mar 12, 2000 5:59 PM From: MayDay913@aol.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

In thinking about my opinion on this topic, it appauls me to think at all that assisting someone in death, basically murder, would ever be legal. As we all know it is a very complicated topic. In the heart of the matter, I agree with the ruling and am glad to see that the court is upholding the integrity of the doctors. If we legally allow doctors to stand in a god-like position, determining when exactly a person leaves this earth, we have tainted their sanctity, using their "powers" not only to heal, but to end lives. On the complete flip-side of that argument, I must take into account the pain and suffering that these patients are suffering from in the first place. Would I want to receive assistance if I were in that case? I cannot truly say, however, I should hope I can withstand the pain to allow God's "time" for me on earth to come to an end. That is my wish at least. I believe, however, that the preservation of the usefulness of physician's knowledge should remain the most important key. Physicians are regarded at this time in a very prestigious light. If that starts to dwindle in the ethics of life and death to such a serious extent, we shall all suffer to a graver extent.

Date: Tue, Feb 29, 2000 2:51 AM From: ShariWeber@goplay.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

Dear Dr. Moe, My name is Shari Weber, and I am writing to you from Deuel High School in Clear Lake, SD. I have researched the topic "assisted suicide. I feel that assisted suicide should not be performed on any human being, even if they are suffering from pain or an incurable illness. After learning more about this topic, I now understand why someone would want to go through with assisted suicide. I think that if it is done, the decision should be completely left up to the individual. It is their choice and no one should be able to decide for them. In my opinion, assisted suicide should never take place, because there is a special time set aside for everyone. We are only changing that by allowing assisted suicide.

Sincerely, Shari Weber

Date: Mon, Feb 28, 2000 1:29 PM From: bschiefe@itctel.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

Dear Dr. Mo,

I have recently completed a filamentality site about assisted deaths and patient rights. When I completed this assignment I began to think about the information that I had received from doing this project. I am totally against another person violating someone else personal rights and the right to live. When someone goes into the hospital they should recieve the best care necessary and not be denied the right to live by someone elses opinion. You may reply to this at this address rlundber@itctel.com.

Date: Wed, Sep 8, 1999 9:08 AM From: katbuc@mintcity.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

Yes, I do think doctors should be able to refuse to kill (I"m sorry) assist in another persons death.


Date: Tue, Jul 20, 1999 12:00 PM From: Hlksr@aol.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I find the constant referral to patient autonomy to be missing the point. All rights are balanced with oughts and duties and other person's rights. When one person causes the death of another it is no longer suicide but murder. Only a few years back the physician took the Hippocratic oath that he would not administer any lethal medicine even if asked to do so. Traditional law over the past hundreds of years has made suicide a crime against the state, and even today no one has a "right" to suicide, much less PAS. Thanks for listening.

H.L.Kraus Sr., M.D.

Date: Mon, Apr 19, 1999 4:04 PM From: Happier 33@aol.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

Physician assisted suicide is obviously a hot topic. I believe that it is ok for terminally ill patients to receive such "treatment." Also, in accordance with the principle of autonomy, the decision of when to receive/administer PAS should weigh more on the patients standards, not on the doctors. However, I believe that the doctor should try everything in his/her power to try to extend the life of his patient because his ultimate job is to try to save the patient's life, not end it. If when the time comes, the patient is suffering tremendously for a terminal disease or illness or whatever, I feel that the patient has the right to end his/her life because the quality of their life is so poor. It's a negative quality of life that nobody should be required to bear. Sometimes in this country the sanctity of life is considered to be too important than it actually is. How many people would really like to end their lives in pain? Not many. My guess is most people would rather die with dignity than in pain. The supreme court is made up of politicians, not thinking from a human point of view. They stick to absolutes, rather than looking in between at the gray areas. Obviously with the medical advances we have today, the "gray area" has to be taken seriously because life is not as simple and archaic as it used to be. The supreme court must open their eyes a little bit and develop a more modern ethical system on which to base their decisions. Their decision in this matter I believe was politcally correct, however they seem to disregard the humanistic aspect of PAS.

--Ed Pollak, College of the Holy Cross Class of 2000

Date: Tue, Mar 9, 1999 2:57 PM From: GKCD01@aol.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

If PAS becomes legal in our entire nation what does that say? Just because grandma can end her life because she's sick, why can't I? A teenager's problems are just as hard as grandma's aren't they? Sure she suffers a lot, but do you think growing up is easy? This tells people that dyeing is okay...as long as you have a good reason. What is a good reason? Over time are the lines going to be pushed back? Are reasons going to become better and better? What's next? I support the Supreme Courts decision 100%!

Date: Sun, Feb 14, 1999 7:22 PM From: sfenn@davidbowie.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

Mr. Hamric's response is an important one in thinking about the court decision. The court did not make this illegal, rather they recognized the debate that is essential to forming a consensus in a democracy must be allowed to continue within our country and among states. Euthanasia is a term meaning good death, and in our society mercy killing is separated from a right to die. This is important because the reality is that mercy killing is rare and rather many acts of death are initiated by the patient who values his or her autonomy. It is debatable whether everyone who wants to die is suicidal due to depression or psychosis or whether some individuals have an informed and competent choice to make. From the acceptance of euthanasia as a practice falls questions of informed consent, the willingness of practicioners, adequate regulation, and other complications. While these moral decisions about protecting the rights of individuals will eventually become laws, in their infancy, neither the law nor the courts are appropriate venues for philosophical or religious deliberation. The law is simply too blunt a tool with which to dissect such a loaded, complex issue. The court refused to place one side of the debate in the majority position. The court recognizes that the voices on all sides of controversy must be heard in order to preserve government by the people, and not just a few of them in D.C.

The worst consequence is to interpret the decision as the final word, or point to other alternatives in an attempt to shrug the issue or the more difficult questions. For instance, I wanted to address the notion that medication can heal the pain of most conditions. Despite the fact that this is untrue, the statistics in our country illustrate that we are incredibly and notoriously confounded when it comes to palliative care. For those lucky enough to have a physician willing to risk her liscense in order to prescribe large doses of narcotics, a substantial stockpile of money to purchase care that exceeds the accepted standard, and the comfort of a hospice, home nurse, or hospital room, there are thousands who have little access to this good death. Finally, along the lines of palliative care, the numbers support, and even the court mentions that doctors supply patients (privileged ones) with lethal doses of pain relief. This is already happening and continues everyday. So beyond moral objections, we need to come together to get into the meat of this discussion and begin to address the tough questions that comprise the most private, intimate, and significant of experiences all humans will ultimately encounter.


Date: Mon, Sep 28, 1998 2:07 PM From: ronnie@accucomm.net To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I strongly feel that physician assisted suicide is wrong, except in certain situations. A person should think very hard before they make a decision as hard as this. God brought us into this world and he should be the one to take us out of this world. If a person is dying, then I feel that it is their choice to live or die. If they are suffering, then I feel that the physician should be able to pull the plug. But if the person can be treated differently and they can get well over a period of time then they should not be able to have the choice of physician assisted suicide. Thanks,


Date: Wed, Aug 12, 1998 11:04 AM From: dra@efn.org To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I support the Oregon law allowing doctor assisted suicide. However, it seems to me that there will be in many cases an ethical problem with it stemming from the the necessity for informed consent. The simplest case is that of a irreligious physician who tends to assume that death is simply the end of individual life, whereas the patient is a traditional believer. From this point of view, might the patient not easily be seen as caught in a kind of delusion, and a major one at that? It is not even that the doctor has to be convinced that the patient's view is false; he only has to see that the patient's belief *could possibly be false*, and informed consent is compromised at best. The patient might see the procedure not as ending life, but as a radical pain killer that will replace suffering with eternal bliss. Even if the doc. is a believer also, would she/he not be required to put aside personal beliefs and take up a professional, detached, scientific point of view? If so, she/he should come to the conclusion that the patient *could be drastically mistaken* about the intended and actual effect of the treatment. The problem only arises for patients who are religious believers.

Daniel Athearn

Date: Fri, Jul 17, 1998 6:45 AM From: patfrank@pol.net To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I am totally against it as it is contrary what a physician is. namely a healer who took an oath.

Date: Thu, Jun 18, 1998 9:18 AM From: jimr@theshop.net To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I feel that assisted suicide for the mentally competent and terminally ill should be allowed. Some wish to set this up before they get so incapacitated that they are unable to communicate their wishes.

Date: Thu, Jun 4, 1998 8:30 AM From: mascid01@endeavor.med.nyu.edu To: DoktorMo@aol.com

This is a really tough opinion to formulate. Instinctively I affirm the patient's right to die when he/she chooses to. Life is about making decisions on how one's life should go. For those who believe in God (and that's not everyone) it may be as simple as leaving it up to God to decide. It is a comforting thought to think that God doesn't give you more than you can handle; that philosophy comforts only those who believe it during their finest moments. In my experience working in a hospital I encountered many patients just begging to die. It killed me to see them in such pain and feeling so hopeless and that the agony wouldn't end until their lives did. The scary thing is that some of these people would have seized the opportunity to end it if given the choice; who knows if somehow some of these people may have recovered if given the chance to do that. THose that did stick it out through the pain and ended up with some good time left would thank god that they didn't end it when they wanted to. All I know is if I or someone I cared about was terminally ill and believed the best thing for them would be death, I would want to grant htem that wish. I wouldn't want anyone to be forced into enduring weeks or months of excruciating pain or being pumped with analgesics until they are in a perpetual stupor. Everyone is so concerned about quality of life, what quality is there in that? Let this last action be taken the way the person wishes it. I don;t know alot aobut all of this, but wouldn't the whole dilemma surrounding this issue be avoided if people were more aware of advance directives? In my mind advance directives offer the patient to choose death over an agonizing end of life before it ever comes to that. Correct me if I am wrong.


Great site! Thank you!

Date: Thu, Apr 30, 1998 2:39 PM From: tara1@missvalley.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

Who is to say someone can't take their own life? I don't think it is you or me. I would hope in their decision they are mentally stable though. I also believe a doctor can pull the plug under severe cases.

Date: Wed, Mar 25, 1998 9:12 AM From: CubsLuv19@aol.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I feel that no one has the right to tell another person what to do with their life and/or body. That is the constitutional right of everyone.


Date: Wed, Mar 18, 1998 10:19 AM From: mbcoe@ehc.edu To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I have to strongly disagree with the Supreme Court's decision. Everyone has the right to life. This is stated clearly in the Constitution of the United States. This then implies that everyone has the right to die, since death is the natural consequence of life. Why should someone be forced to suffer? A terminally ill patient who says they want to die should be able to have that right fullfilled. Physicians are supposed to be there to help their patients. In some sad cases, the only way to end the pain and suffering of an individual is death. I am trying to imply that only the terminally ill should be the ones who are able to partake in the sad outcome of physician assisted suicide. To see a loved one suffer day in and day out is tragic for eveyone. There for, I have to disagree with the Court's decision.

Date: Sun, Mar 8, 1998 6:56 PM From: RaymondMel@aol.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I completely agree with the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court. I have had contact with terminally ill patients, but I still believe no person should make the choice to end their own life, no matter what the method is. God knows each and every person and what they are experiencing in life, and it is He alone who should decide when a person's time on earth is complete.

Date: Tue, Feb 10, 1998 3:32 PM From: saraleebernstein#erols.com@erols.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I have always been a person for life. But since my start in a nursing home over three years ago, I have met terminally ill elderly patients. Since that time I have seen most of them beg for G-d to take them. If it is death that a terminally ill patient desires, so let it be their dying wish. I have often heard others talking how if a person can not and does not want to live anymore, they can not suffer anymore than they already have. If a doctor's job is to make the patient feel better-and the patient wants to die to feel better, so be it that that person has the right to die. Asking a person to end their life which is deeply affected could be the best thing they have ever recieved from anyone besides all the love they have received. I know certain family members have already told me that if it came to the point where they were terminally ill, they wanted to end the suffering and go to a place much better.

If terminally ill patients want to die-- for crying out loud give them that favor.


Date: Tue, Jan 27, 1998 9:01 AM From: friesz14@hotmail.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

About your question on physician assisted suicide. Why would you want to end your life, a gift that was given to you no charge. And your just going to throw it right back in the giver's face. Why because of pain? depression? lonliness? if you do believe in God and have morals then i know you must have read some of the bible. And if you have read some of the bible then i know you know of miracles. Why couldn't you just have faith that you would be healed just like the blind man in Luke. He called out to jesus even when everyone else had given up on him. They told him to shut up but he insisted that he be heard and what did it get him? His sight back. he asked and he was given. But if you do not believe in God then you probably don't have any morals so sure kill yourself what do you have to lose. I mean if you kill yourself you will be gone forever dissapeared from existence all together. What's the big loss. That is what people that don't believe in God believe. right?!

Date: Fri, Jan 8, 1998 8:46 PM From: peckn@okway.okstate.edu To: DoktorMo@aol.com

The Supreme Court Decision is wrong, wrong, wrong. One of our fundamental rights SHOULD be the right to cease to exist in a dignified/expedient manner. I really just don't understand why they would be so concerned with a person who has a terminally ill disease who wants an end to their suffering. What stake do they hold in someone else's life? I think this must come from the Christian doctrine that it's "wrong" to commit suicide, it's a sin, and if you do it, you won't go to "heaven."

Given that, what happened to that thing called separation of church and state...I guess we should understand that this is not always the case because as you know -- "In God We Trust." What a contradiction! It seems like they are trying to legally uphold Christian morals and that is not right. There are people in this country who are not Christian, or who do not hold those same truths, who deserve the right to self determination which includes the right to die (terminally ill or not).

Natalie Peck

Date: Thu, Jan 8, 1998 8:30 PM From: ahamric@DEPAUW.EDU To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I object to the way the title is formatted. It implies the Supreme Court has declared assisted suicide illegal. This is not the case, rather the Court has declared that it is not protected, and the implication (at least my understanding of it) is that states may choose to make it illegal or not. In this manner, the Court is preventing itself from having to make a decision for the entire country.

Andy Hamric

Date: Sat, Dec 13, 1997 10:42 PM From: fcalabro@sbsd1.sburl.k12.vt.us To: DoktorMo@aol.com

It is contradictory for our Supreme Court to rule that assisted suicide is illegal. Our government is a democracy, a form of government in which people matter. People's individual rights are as important as the government's. Yet the government now says we do not have the right to control when our lives end. If they rule this, how can they approve capital punishment? I don't know if the Supreme Court has ruled on capital punishment, but it is legal in a large number of states. How can we say that the government has control over people's lives, but the people themselves, the ones to whom it will have the greatest importance, do not? To me, this seems too contradictory. Our government seems to say with this decision that imposed death is fine in the case of punishment, but not in the case of mercy. To me, this is backwards. Also, I feel that passive euthanasia should be legal. My father was sick with lung cancer for several months without a respirator before removing his food tube. He lived 6 weeks longer. Passive euthanasia is not murder. People claim that we should let others with terminal illness suffer through the end of their lives without hope of recovery. Why? So they can spend time with their family? Isn't that a little selfish? Because it's letting the natural course of action take place? Isn't it more natural to let someone die without machines? As for active euthanasia, this is the most difficult topic. Whether it is moral or immoral to let someone die who is not in pain and not in immediate threat of death is a difficult question. Medicine is at a point where we are able to diagnose before symptoms become harmful. We must decide if a diagnosis alone is enough grounds for suicide. I disagree with euthanasia in this case. Doctor assisted suicide is humane and in accordance with our other laws and rights when it is done for mercy. Euthanasia is not the answer for people seeking a quick fix when life gets difficult.

Date: Fri, Dec 5, 1997 7:45 AM From: marcyc@gdaha.org To: DoktorMo@aol.com

Dear Sir - Thank you for asking for opinions. I hope this forum is open to anyone because I am not a doctor. I didn't have a chance to read all of the prerequisites. I do believe that physician assisted suicide is an open door for abuse of the defenseless, the "perceived" useless, the "perceived" helpless. It assumes that people's worth is totally based on the current society's value system. Unfortunately, our society's current value system is decaying everyday. Our "perceived" enlightenment is leading us down a dangerous path that other past "enlightened" societies have seen before the end of their existence. Should it be permitted. NO. If I am not mistaken, wasn't it abortion, termination of useless and undesirables the way Hitler got the people of his generation and society to accept the deplorable acts that he and his followers perpetuated on the world.

Not to mention that physicians are being asked to partake in issues that they have to wear on their hearts and minds. Aren't we a selfish society that we would even put these people in that role; men and women who swore to care and nurture life.

Please - people still have some shred of belief that physicians are a special breed of people who sincerely care about the well-being of people. Isn't it very sad that we are so "humane" that we will put a man/woman to death for punishment with a lethal injection but we will close our eyes and more sadly, our hearts to the jamming of scissors and the sucking of the brain of a tiny child who just moments later would have been the "apple" of someone's eye. The fact that we are so barbaric to our little ones doesn't speak well of us.

Sorry to go on. Just really sad about the de-valuing of human life all around us.

Date: Mon, Nov 24, 1997 8:15 PM From: bigoni@connet80.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

God is the Creator, God gave us life, it is not the choice of the doctor, or the patient when they want to die, it is God's choice. God has a perfect amount of time set aside for each persons life, and only He knows how long that is. Everyone should think about this. The "right to die" is not our choice, it is God's.

-Think about it!

Date: Mon, Nov 10, 1997 3:35 AM From: cabnoon@kear.tds.net To: DoktorMo@aol.com

My ethics class was mesmerized by 60 MINUTES last week. Dr. K was at it again in Michigan where the attorney general even admitted he wouldn't waste taxpayers' money by trying to prosecute him again (he's been acquitted 3 times in MI). The politics are irrelevant and the court decision unfortunate, because the "people" will not support an inappropriate law. We concur that death with dignity is an individual's right...

Date: Sat, Oct 4, 1997 10:36 AM From: lincoln2@harborcom.net To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I wonder how a doctor can perform assisted suicide on a patient after swearing the Hippocratic oath. I believe in euthanasia, but a patient taking their own life is a little immoral in my opinion. However, this country was based on freedom of choice.

Date: Wed, Sep 24, 1997 10:54 AM From: zafary@SDCPOS3C.DAYTONOH.ncr.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I agree with the Supreme Court's decision for two reasons: 1) Laws in support of euthanasia would be difficult if not impossible to write and enforce. 2) Suicide is not the only option to the terminally ill or those in extreme pain.

1) I'm sure most people would agree that, if euthanasia was legalized, we should have strict standards that oversee how, when, and why patients are euthanized. Where would we draw the lines? Would we allow the 85 year-old cancer patient to commit suicide? How about the 35 year-old lupus patient? And the 17 year-old AIDS patient? What standards would we establish to determine who could legally be euthanized? I'm sure most of you would agree that all askers should not be immediately signed up for the lethal shot. Assuming we, as a society, did decide on an acceptable matrix of age and well-being, who would be allowed to administer the lethal medication? The patient's spouse or relative, or a health professional? And, most importantly, how could we ensure beyond a doubt that all those euthanized REALLY understood their alternatives? Just because *you* can decide for yourself, can we make that assumption for everyone? Such questions are not just theoretical exercises -- studies in the Netherlands (sorry, but I can't remember specifics) have shown that people there are being euthanized without proper consultation.

2) Suicide is not the only recourse that we have to avoiding intense pain or suffering. There is not much pain that cannot be controlled by medication. In fact, self-medicated morphine is often recommended for patients who suffer. Those people in advanced stages of cancer or other horrible diseases can be made comfortable in their final hours.

I whole-heartedly agree that dignity and comfort are paramount in our last stages of life, but can we afford to resort to such extreme measures as physician-assisted suicide when less dangerous alternatives exist? So many questions remained unanswered.

Date: Sat, Sep 13, 1997 7:56 AM From: breslijm@mcmail.cis.mcmaster.ca To: DoktorMo@aol.com

Individual human rights are the number one advantage of living in a free and democratic society such as the U.S. or Canada. Yet for some reason the courts are unwilling to grant citizens the freedom to make certain decisions with regards to the quality of their own lives. Section 7 (I think it is 7 anyway) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms grants the inalienable right to life to all Canadian citizens. I argue that this does not simply grant people the right to be alive, but also the right to lead a life of a certain quality. Restricting people from making decisions about when they feel their lives are no longer worth living is an infringement of this inalienable human right. In addition, it is not only the job of a physician to try to keep people alive, but it is also the job of a physician to make sure that terminally ill patients are as comfortable as possible. If it is clear that a person cannot be saved, and that their death is imminent and inevitable, would not assisted suicide also be included as a method of increasing the patient's comfort?

Date: Fri, Aug 1, 1997 2:44 PM From: 16751@msn.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I, frome the center of My being, feel, that if a person is ill, either physically, or, mentally, but, yet able to express a sound descission of wanting to live, or, ernestly wishing nothing more than to pass on to the next level, what ever it may be, life after death, or, hopefully a total cessation of being, that person, or persons,should be not only allowed, but assisted, to depart this plane with dignaty, and lacking pain, humiliation, and shame that is normally attached to a departure of such nature. I personally would be glad to be the first in line for such an departure, as I feel I dont have, and wont have, any thing to offer a society that I neither understand, or feel I am a part of.


Date: Tue, Jul 29, 1997 8:44 AM From: jburns@mednet.swmed.edu (John W Burnside) To: DoktorMo@aol.com

Were the court to grant this as a right it would be a positive right with the attendand obligation to provide for that right. This, it seems to me, would represent an affront to the autonomy of the physician opposed to the notion. Suppose we took the "physician" out of the picture and affirmed a right to assisted suicide? Could we not then have licensed euthanists just as we have special provisions for executioners. I could even see a new professional organization ACT - the American College of Thanatology - they could have an annual meeting, board examinations and their own journal!

Date: Sat, Jul 26,1997 6:12 AM From: DocReading@sprintmail.com (William H. Reading, MD) To: DoktorMo@aol.com

The Court's decision seems to invoke the principle of physician or societal beneficence. I have not read the decision and the exact wording is important for future lawmaking. There are considerations other than the right to die to be discussed. I believe that it is not the physician's role per se to provide death to patients. Certainly to provide comfort, to help a patient die as peacefully and to promote a dignified death are well within the physician's responsibility. Psychiatrists are trained in deciding whether or not a person's decision to refuse medical treatment to allow death yet there are no guiding methods taught on how to decide whether a person's decision for assisted suicide is rational or not. Possibly, morticians should be assisting with suicide-- or would this be a conflict of interest? Pharmacologists are active in studying the LD50 of a drug but what about the LD100. The military is knowledgeable in killing but not necessarily painlessly. Nevertheless, the real issue revolves around the autonomy v. beneficence issue not who should do the killing.

Date: Mon, Jul 14, 1997 7:51 AM From: Nrse4morph@aol.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

There is however a provision in the constitution for "the pursuit of happiness." A person in pain, or facing a protracted, debilitating, ansd terminal disease could very well view the taking of a dose of medication adequate enough to cause death as just that.

It is obvous that the nine on the bench want to live forever, that is a personal decision, not one that should be forced on everyone.

I might or might not take that route if confronted with a terminal situation, but that's my choice, and not something that should be mandated by a societal ethic.

Date: Sat, Jun 28, 1997 6:38 AM From: HBRadest@aol.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

A quick response...want to see the full decision before commenting at length. Naturally, I'm sorry that the Court did not support the Appeals Courts on this matter. It leaves practice about where it was...lots of sub-rosa activity with all of the dangers involved in that! On the other hand, we need a wider discussion of the question of death and dying and the Court's decision along with the attention it is getting will stimulate that. I would expect some states (California, Oregon, Florida) to get on with legal development and so new cases will inevitably develop. The subject is filled with personally anxiety-provoking and culturally mores-threatening issues (what is our attitude toward death, what is the role of the healer, etc.). So, along with others, I do not think we've heard the last word on the matter. Now, back to work...

Howard Radest

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