August 12, 2014
The Controversy of Assisted Suicide
Social History and Background
The Hippocratic Oath, estimated to be written in the fourth century has this statement, “I will not give a lethal drug to anyone if I am asked, nor will I advise such a plan.” Time Magazine says that the idea that it should be illegal to help someone commit suicide is most often argued to the Biblical Commandment: “Thou Shalt Not kill.” Despite this, several Judeo-Christian societies have condoned assisted suicide recently. Australia legalized it in 1995, only to withdraw the law two years later. “The centuries-old debate over a person's right to die, usually in cases of painful terminal illness, is currently grabbing headlines” (TIME). The earliest American act explicitly to outlaw assisting suicide was passed in New York in 1828, and many of the new States and Territories followed New York's example. Between 1857 and 1865, a New York commission led by a man named Dudley Field drafted a criminal code that banned "aiding" a suicide and, specifically, "furnishing another person with any deadly weapon or poisonous drug, knowing that such person intends to use such weapon or drug in taking his own life." (American Law Institute). By the time the Fourteenth Amendment was ratified, it was a crime in most States to assist a suicide. The “Field Penal Code” was adopted by the Dakota Territory in 1877, The Code's creators observed that "the interests in the sanctity of life that are represented by the criminal homicide laws are threatened by one who expresses a willingness to participate in taking the life of another, even though the act may be accomplished with the consent, or at the request, of the suicide victim." (American Law Institute).
Current Debates and People affected
The main arguments over the terms for assisted suicide include the ethical argument,”that people should have freedom of choice, including the right to control their own body and life (as long as they do not...