Right to Die

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Eryka A Jones

Exploring and Understanding the Dynamics of Decision Making


Kristi Husk

March 29, 2017

It is argued that every humanbeing has the right to end his or her life. For instance, people withterminal illness have an option to use assisted suicide (Raijmakerset al., 2015). In some cases, a patient can refuse treatment(life-prolonging treatment). The issue of right-to-die has beencontroversial, and many people question who should make the decisionto end life.

Thefollowing article will be analyzed to examine the issue of &quotrightto die.&quot

  1. Peña, A. M. (2015). Depression, Capacity, and a Request to Discontinue Life-Sustaining Treatment. The American Journal of Bioethics, 15(7), 70-71.

  2. Hoefler, J. M. (2013). At Liberty to Die: The Battle for Death with Dignity in America. Political Science Quarterly (Wiley-Blackwell), 128(4), 765-766. doi:10.1002/polq.12118

Explainthe claims made in the two articles considering the backgroundinformation and discuss how the issue became controversial.

Pena’s claim

The article by Pena asserts thatevery critically ill patient can reject a life-sustaining treatment.However, it is important to scrutinize such a decision because itcould have been influenced by depression or other factors. Accordingto the article, the patient can exercise this right when his decisionis free from coercion, if the burden is an advantage over thecontinued treatment, and if the patient has the mental capacity tomake the right choice (Peña, 2015). The article says that a patientcan opt to discontinue life for different purposes, all of which mustbe ethically relevant. For instance, it is considered ethical for apatient to refuse treatment if the outcome of the treatment willbring about the unacceptable quality of life. Also, the author saysthat a patient can refuse treatment as a means of committing suicide.In either case, professional practices demand that a patient has tobe evaluated his decision capacity. The author, therefore, arguesthat depression can be one of the factors that would influence apatient to make a decision to end his life (Peña, 2015). The issuebecame controversial because experts believe that some patients canmake a decision to stop life-sustaining treatment because ofdepression. Terminally ill patients experience depression, which areasonable reaction to terminate treatment. The author believes thatas much as the patient has the right to cancel treatment, it isimportant to offer such patients with medications to reducedepression.


Hoefler argues that in America,the right to die is legally approved. The author says although theright-to-die has been a controversial topic in America, patients havethe right to decide if they want to terminate life-saving treatmentor assisted suicide. The author also makes a claim that chronicallyill patients are transferred to states that have legalized right todie so that they can practice the right to die (Hoefler, 2013). Healso claims that the right to die is now legal in different states.

Howdo historical perspective and theories add to the debate?

Historically,the author says that topic became controversial in the 1990s sincethe end of Death with Dignity Act (Hoefler, 2013). The Utilitarianapproach can be used to support the claim because a majority ofpeople wants the right-to-die because of excessive suffering (Cohen &ampAhn, 2016). The basic principle of utilitarian Theory is to maximizein happiness but minimize pain.

Examinethe evidence from the two articles and explain, which material has astronger argument

Pena`s evidence to support hisargument is that depression has an influence on the decision ofsuicidal despair (Pena, 2015). Pena argues that patient can requestto end life-sustaining treatment because they are depressed. It isthe reason why Pena suggest that all patients who discontinuelife-sustaining treatment should be assessed their decisionalcapacity. The author supports his claim by saying that everypatient`s decision to discontinue treatment therapy should bereasonable. In addition, Pena suggests that all patients who make adecision to terminate the life-sustaining treatment should beassessed consistent with past decisions.

Hoeffer claims that every patienthas the right to die. It is the reason why the criminal justicesystem has legalized this act. There is a broad range of evidenceused by the author to support his main argument. He examines severalcourt cases and battles that have enacted the right to die. The legalprocesses and conclusions that have been employed in this peer revieware educative. The other evidence used in the article is the argumentthat many chronically ill patients are transferred to states thatallow right-to-die. By moving patients from one state to another, itdemonstrates that indeed, the right to die is a settled legaldiscussion in some states.

Pena`sarticle presents a stronger argument than Hoeffers` report. Penamakes a valid argument by saying that although patients can decide toterminate life-sustaining treatment, it would be useful if such adecision is assessed to ensure that, the patient makes an informeddecision.

Inboth articles, indentify any logic fallacies and state why theyshould be considered as fallacies.

Logicfallacy found in Pena’s article

The author says that depressionis one of the factors that can cause a patient to make a decision toterminate life-sustaining therapy. The article suggests that it isimportant to conduct an assessment to all patients to ascertain theirmental capacity to make a consistent and uninformed decision. Thestatement is a logical fallacy because the author assumes that ifpatients make a decision to terminate life-sustaining treatment, itcould have been triggered by depression or inability to make a sounddecision. The reality is that depression itself could be a reasonablefactor that has contributed to a diminished life.

Logicfallacy found in Hoffer`s article

In this article, although theright to die is a settled legal question in many states, only a fewpeople engage in assisted suicide. The author says only 5 out of 10cases happen across the country. This statement is a logic fallacybecause it is hard to determine how many people want to participatein assisted suicide (Hoffer, 2013). There is a possibly that a highnumber of patients are willing to participate in assisted suicide butthey die or feel better before making their decision known to thepublic.

Whydoes one article have a stronger argument than the other does? Howdoes current perspective and theories support the rationale?

Pena`s article has a strongerargument. The author agrees that although it is right for people toparticipate in assisted suicide, there is a need to assess andanalyze their decision to check for consistency. The result of theanalysis determines if other factors have influenced such a choice.Pena`s argument has a moral and professional support. For instance,the professional code of practice demands that if a patient demandsfor the discontinuation of life-sustaining treatment, he or sheshould be evaluated on decision capacity. According to Pena`sargument, if a patient has made a decision without being pressured todo so, then, he or she can be allowed to participate in assistedsuicide. This argument is strong because the Utilitarian Theory ofethical decision also supports it (Cohen &amp Ahn, 2016). Accordingto the Utilitarian Approach, an action should be assessed regardingconsequences. Pena has argued that if a patient makes an informeddecision, it means he or she has weighed all the cost benefits of theaction (Cohen &amp Ahn, 2016). Therefore, Pena`s argument can bedeemed as robust or stable because a professional and ethicaldecision is made for upholding the greater good while minimizingharm.

Howthe right-to-die topic is applicable and significant to the world.

Many people have made requests todie in their hospital beds. The issue of assisted suicide has been ahotly debated topic because some people believe that it is wrong toparticipate in assisted suicide (Raijmakers et al., 2015). Anothergroup of supporters feels that a patient can demand a doctor toterminate a treatment to end suffering (van Wijngaarden, Leget, &ampGoossensen, 2015). Some experts say when doctors agree to end thelife of a patient they take great risk and participate in deceptiveconduct. In the recent past, several cases of right-to-die have beenapproved across the globe. In 2015, a young woman was granted theright to die in Belgium. The young girl argued &quotDeath feels tome, not as a choice&quot but it is a decision she made because ofendless suffering. The right-to-die has been approved in differentstates across the US and Australia among others countries. InWashington and Oregon, voluntary euthanasia is now considered legalas long as it is within the safeguard framework of the patient.


Cohen, D. J., &amp Ahn, M. (2016). A subjective utilitarian theoryof moral judgment.

Hoefler,J. M. (2013). At Liberty to Die: The Battle for Death with Dignity inAmerica. Political

Science Quarterly(Wiley-Blackwell), 128(4), 765-766. doi:10.1002/polq.12118

Pena, A. M. (2015).Depression, Capacity, and a Request to Discontinue Life-SustainingTreatment.http://dx.doi.org/http://dx.doi.org.lopes.idm.oclc.org/10.1080/15265161.2015.1042726

Raijmakers, N. J., Heide, A. V., Kouwenhoven, P. S., Ghislaine J M Wvan Thiel, Delden, J. J., &amp Rietjens, J. A. (2015). Assistance indying for older people without a serious medical condition who have awish to die: a national cross-sectional survey. Retrieved fromhttp://dx.doi.org/10.1136/medethics-2012-101304

van Wijngaarden, E.,Leget, C., &amp Goossensen, A. (2015). Ready to give up on life: Thelived experience of elderly people who feel life is completed and nolonger worth living. Social Science &amp Medicine, 138,257-264.