There are many reasons for the rise in calls for governments to decriminalize assisted suicide in specific cases.
Medical advancements that extend life are great scientific accomplishments, but they may be horrific accomplishments. This is because some medical advancements prolong suffering in patients who should be allowed to die naturally and as soon as possible. This is where assisted suicide is becoming a major issue.
Medicine may have ignored calls to insure a quality of life before extending life. Extending life at any cost is no longer seen as acceptable or heroic. Nowhere near enough attention has been given to a third option, which is palliative care where a person is aided in a natural death from a disease or injury that is sure to cause their death.
On the other hand, some patients want to commit suicide as soon as they hear that they have a terminal disease out of fear that they will eventually become unable to care for themselves. There is a lot of well justified fear that the care will be abusive, negligent or less than tolerable. Many people fear a time when they will be neglected, alone, powerless to defend themselves, or unable to make decisions in their own best interests.
More and more people in nations around the world are calling for a means for able minded adults get assistance in ending their lives and for the professionals who assist to be relieved of criminal sanctions. This is called “decriminalizing assisted suicide”.
Assisted suicide is treated differently than other suicides.
Suicide is most simply defined as taking willful and deliberate action to kill the self. Assisted suicide is most simply defined as taking willful and deliberate action to kill someone who has made it clear that they want to die with assistance. A third definition needs to be applied to situations where an individual wants help with avoiding a well known agonizing or terribly long death process. This is called medically-assisted suicide.
Medically assisted suicide offers a quick and painless death where drugs that are only available to licensed practitioners are used to end life. The patient undergoes thorough examination of their mental health and their physical conditions in order to determine that the patient is mentally competent to make the decision, that the quality of life will be definitely be terrible, and that the patient will definitely die from their condition.
American and international laws governing assisted suicide are highly variable. Some laws expressly prohibit assisted suicide, while others avoid assigning criminal status to assisted suicide by saying nothing. Other governments clearly allow assisted suicide, but under strict conditions. Many more governments are in the process of deciding what to do about rising support for specific cases of assisted suicide.
In 2010, the Washington Times reported that Montana became the third American state to allow assisted suicide in specific cases. A state Supreme Court ruling decreed that,
“The Montana Supreme Court opinion will now give doctors in the state the freedom to prescribe deadly drug doses to mentally competent, terminally ill patients without fear of being prosecuted, advocates said.”
Oregon and Washington are the two other states that allow assisted suicide in specific cases, according to Legal Match.
As for other nations, the UK Guardian reports that Switzerland, Luxembourg, Belgium, the Netherlands have written legislation that allows assisted suicide in specific situations. Italy, Ireland and Canada have laws that definitely outlaw any form of assisted suicide. Italy prosecutes such cases as manslaughter. The French Senate refused to pass proposed legislation that would allow adults to request assisted suicide.