Name: Eric Gerard D. Ruiz
Column Name: Tarantado, Asintado
A lot of individuals are suffering in hospitals right now. Families spend thousands of dollars for medications, surgeries, hospital bills, doctors’ fees, etc. Some patients are weak due to old age. It is impractical to continue medication if the body will eventually give up. In most cases, patients have no chance of recovery. Let us not put a blind eye to this issue. It is painful for the patient to endure endless treatments and undergo operations. The right to die should be given to a person.
The right to die refers to the issue where a person is given the power to decide for his own life. “Voluntary euthanasia” is another term. In the Philippines, the right to die is not yet legal. Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago Senate filed Senate bill 1887 or the “Natural Death Act” last Oct. 24, 2013. This bill has been sitting in the “pending chair” for three years. There are important requisites in this act: adult person, directive, life-sustaining treatment, permanent unconscious condition, and terminal condition. The adult person means, “a person who has attained the age of majority, and who has the capacity to make health care decisions.” The directive is a written document that states the declarer’s voluntary execution to undergo euthanasia. Life-sustaining treatment means any “medical or surgical intervention” that keeps the patient alive, thus “prolonging the process of dying.” Permanent unconscious condition refers to “an incurable and irreversible condition…having no reasonable probability of recovery from an irreversible coma or a persistent vegetative state.” Terminal condition is “an incurable and irreversible condition caused by injury, disease, or illness…when the application of life-sustaining treatment serves only to prolong the process of dying.” These five important requisites limit the scope of the right to die.
On One’s Decision
The right to die is the decision of the patient. He, as an adult person, has the capacity to make his own decisions. Neither doctors nor the family members should intervene with the dying patient. The decision of a dying person to take his own life is to relieve himself from the pains of medication and to reduce hospital expenses. The decision to die may affect the family or career. If you were in the dying patient’s shoes, experiencing the pain of the therapies, operations, and medications, can you endure it until it gets better? Can you face the fact that your determination to live is 101 percent, but your body is barely recuperating? The option to die can give the patient the eternal rest he deserves.
On Suicide and Murder
According to various related literature, suicide is the act of deliberately killing yourself. To put everything within the parameters of the topic, two of the essential requisites are permanent unconscious condition and terminal condition. With that stated, the main subject of the topic is a dying person. Does a terminally-ill person have the physical strength to kill himself? No. Suicide is not considered in this matter.
What if the person is unconscious? Can the family decide for the unconscious patient? Yes. If the family decides for the patient, can that be considered murder? No. The directive will be a powerful instrument in this case. It is stated in the directive, “In the absence of my ability to give directions regarding the use of such life-sustaining treatment, it is my intention that this directive shall be honored by my family and physician(s) as the final expression of my legal right to refuse medical or surgical treatment and I accept the consequences of such refusal.” Should this act be approved to law, family members or physicians can honor the directive as the “final expression” of the patient to refuse treatments. Thus, murder is also not considered in this matter.
Santiago said in her explanatory note, “Modern medical technology has made possible the artificial prolongation of human life beyond natural limits. Such prolongation of the process of dying for persons with a terminal condition or permanent unconscious condition may cause loss of patient dignity, and unnecessary pain and suffering while providing nothing medically necessary or beneficial to the patient.” In times like this, we are left with choices. Should this bill be enacted? Will you exercise your right to die?~