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That there should be a right to die

10 points
5 points
annas188annas188 (PRO)
 In this debate, I am operating under the premise that a "right to die" refers to the right of an individual, when diagnosed with a terminal illness, to elect to take a physician-prescribed drug with the sole intent of ending the individual's life. My opening arguments fall under three main points:

1. The right to die saves an individual from weeks or months of agony and suffering.
2. Modern medicine falls short of adequately dealing with the end of every life.
3. The right to die alleviates both emotional and financial burdens on the loved ones of a terminally ill individual.

Firstly, death by terminal illness is slow and agonizing. The right to die gives those afflicted a choice to refuse to undergo this painful process and rather can choose a more dignified way. In the words of Supreme Court Justice William Brennan, "An ignoble end steeped in decay is abhorrent. A quiet, proud death, bodily integrity intact, is a matter of extreme confidence."  The CDC has reported that terminal illnesses such as cancer and heart disease are the leading causes of death in the US, with about 600,000 deaths per year in the US alone. In 2012, the World Health Organization reported that heart disease was the single greatest cause of death worldwide, with 7.4 million deaths in that year. This grows exponentially when we take into account cancer and other forms of terminal illness. In this situation, we are looking at millions of lives each year which end slowly and painfully, and the right to die gives these people the opportunity to save themselves from the horror of such a death. To deny them this right is not only insensitive; it is inhumane.

Secondly, we must also take into account the limitations of modern medicine. Hospice is often psychologically detrimental to patients.  Andrew Solomon, author and professor of clinical psychology at Columbia University, puts it this way: "It's nothing short of medical arrogance to say that palliative care and hospice can adequately deal with the end of every life. Hospice, in fact, can impose an authoritarian, hard, paternalistic view that the hospice way of dying is the only way." Moreover, modern medicine often cannot do much to alleviate the torturous pain, both physical and psychological, caused by terminal illness. Rather than forcing terminally ill patients to live out their last painful days in hospice under dubiously effective pain-relieving drugs as their body slowly deteriorates, we ought to allow patients to make the individual decision to undergo this painful process or not.

Finally, when we look to the effects on family members and loved ones of those with terminal illnesses, we find that the right to die is also in their best interest. Family members are often the primary caregivers of patients in hospice, and this has massive psychological and financial impacts. A 199 study conducted by the Department of Psychiatry and University Center for Social & Urban Research at the University of Pittsburgh found that increased morbidity and mortality is directly linked to caregiving, as well as increased anxiety and depression. There are also physical and health-related effects; a 2010 Oslo University Hospital study found that caregivers often experienced sleep disturbance, fatigue, pain, loss of physical strength, loss of appetite, and weight loss. Moreover, the cost burden of providing care to a terminally ill person is massive, both in outright expense and in lost income and benefits. A study done at the University of Michigan's Department of Radiation Oncology found that cancer treatment was associated with an incremental increase of 3.1 hours per week of informal caregiving, which translates into an additional average yearly cost of $1,200 per patient and over $1 billion nationally. Caregiving also decreases an individuals chances of being employed. The right to die can greatly alleviate these burdens.

The resolution is affirmed.

Return To Top | Posted:
2016-06-10 19:37:46
| Speak Round
CrowCrow (CON)
Glad to be doing this debate with you, annas188.  

My contentions are centered around how legitimizing rights is harmful. I do not oppose individuals killing themselves, because frankly, I do not care what people want to do with their own lives. I do however care how we characterize ourselves as a collective. Too frame...

1. By declaring "rights," society is defining its beliefs. Ratifying a right to die is little different than society legitimizing suicide as moral. 
2. Citizens can be given the ability to commit suicide through laws, rather than through the declaration of rights. 

The key point of my position, is that we can allow people to legally commit suicide, without actually making it a "right." 

Rights are often affirmed constitutionally, which gives them official and near-permanent status. While the majority of society may want citizens to have the ability to commit suicide, not everybody may view the act as moral. There is no reason to define our society as a whole by affirming a new right. That is why this is terribly risky. 

What is actually preventing individuals from committing suicide are laws that our states have put in place. These laws are the root of the problem. The solution is as simple as abolishing these laws, which is what I propose doing. Abolishing laws doesn't characterize our societies either. 

The risk of legitimizing suicide morally is clear, and it doesn't take much to see how my proposal is a better solution.

Return To Top | Posted:
2016-06-11 19:16:54
| Speak Round
annas188annas188 (PRO)
Thanks for your opening arguments, Stag.

The main flaw in your logic is equating a medical right to die with suicide. The distinction between these two things is vital in this debate. Suicide responds to personal disintegration; physician-aided death, or euthanasia, precludes it. The former is a response to an individual's personal psychological deterioration and loss of control; the latter is an assertion of control over one's life before that deterioration can take place. The two ideas are quite different and in order to adequately address this issue, that line needs to be recognized.

Your major premise of rights vs. laws is interesting but quite shaky, due to the ambiguity of the resolution itself. It doesn't necessarily imply legal change, but neither does it imply any alteration to the Constitution or any such documentation of the rights of citizens. Presumably, if physician-aided death were to be allowed, it would be done so through legislation (as in the states which allow it). It would be an extremely atypical means of implementation to declare such a thing a constitutionally inalienable right. My understanding is that "right to die" is just a catchy phrase to refer the legalization of physician-aided death; thus I do believe that this is a legal situation, not a constitutional one, and has little bearing on our moral framework.

Moreover, contrary to what we might think, there is a considerable risk associated with decriminalizing suicide as a whole. While it may seem pointless to make suicide a crime, it has some potentially life-saving benefits. Legislation against suicide allows law enforcement to intervene in cases where an individual may be considering suicide, or have failed an attempt. They can then legally be detained and brought to a medical facility for mental and/or physical treatment. It also protects law enforcement (or anyone, I suppose) from legal repercussions or lawsuits from stopping someone in the act. The solution here is specific legislation allowing physician aided death (NOT "suicide" in the usual sense) in cases of terminal illness; this allows ill patients to end their suffering without jeopardizing other lives, as your proposal, unfortunately, would. 

Return To Top | Posted:
2016-06-11 21:20:37
| Speak Round
CrowCrow (CON)
Let's establish for the judges that a "right to die" refers to any form of suicide or assisted suicide. The resolution is hardly ambiguous for me, and did not refer specifically to cases of euthanasia. I'll trust that the judges will notice this when making their own interpretation of the resolution. 

As it is the job of the affirmation to flesh out the specifics of her proposal, I had to take an open guess that a "right to die" would be documented in either a constitutional amendment or a new law. I see now that the affirmation wishes to add a new law, which while not as permanent as a constitutional amendment, holds just about the same amount of risk. 

 I am unsure what the affirmation means when she says "this allows ill patients to end their suffering without jeopardizing others lives..." 

Suicide involves taking ones own life, and the affirmation has not actually explained how this very specific act jeopardizes others lives. If someone intentionally or unintentionally hurts someone else during a suicide attempt, from a legal point of view, that would no longer be considered just a case of suicide. This is largely irrelevant though, because there are no legal consequences for people who successfully commit suicide. They are dead after all. 

Simply removing or revising current laws to allow suicide and assisted suicide, would not entail the same risk that writing new laws would have. The criminalization sections of these laws can even be left in place, since the affirmation seems to think this is important. There really is no good reason at this point to prefer the affirmation's solution over this one. 

Return To Top | Posted:
2016-06-11 22:33:34
| Speak Round
annas188annas188 (PRO)
It appears that our definitions of the term "right to die" don't quite align. In the beginning of my opening argument, I stated that I am defining "right to die" as the legal right of an individual, when diagnosed with a terminal illness, to elect to take a physician-prescribed drug with the sole intent of ending the individual's life. (This could also be used similarly to include DNR agreements or denying extraordinary medical measures to preserve the life of a dying individual. I have considered this use of the term also in my previous arguments.) This is the generally accepted meaning of the term, and the premise under which I am operating. I would respectfully ask my opponent to conduct further research on the subject of the national "right to die" debate for clarification of this term, and hope we can dispel any confusion and continue a productive debate.

For clarification: I have not stated that the act of suicide by one person jeopardizes the lives of another, and I apologize if my previous arguments were not clear enough. From what I understand, my opponent wishes to abolish any laws which hinder any individual's ability to commit suicide. (As he said, What is actually preventing individuals from committing suicide are laws that our states have put in place. These laws are the root of the problem. The solution is as simple as abolishing these laws...). This proposal, as I previously stated, endangers the lives of suicidal people, as anti-suicide laws provide for legal intervention by law enforcement before or after a suicide attempt. Of course, there are no repercussions for people who attempt suicide and succeed, they're dead. But that isn't the point. Anti-suicide laws, where they exist, provide for life-saving action to help suicidal people who have not successfully followed through in the act of suicide. This is why I claim that neg's proposal to abolish any laws preventing suicide is reckless and dangerous. It is much safer to enact specific and targeted laws allowing physician-aided death for terminally ill patients, and allow the physically afflicted to determine further action in a medical setting, while maintaining anti-suicide laws (understanding, still, as I've previously discussed in more depth, that physician-aided death and suicide are two different things). That is my proposal. Hence, we can "allow ill patients to end their suffering without jeopardizing the lives of others". (Others, being suicidal people in need of intervention.)

The real key which makes implementation of new laws necessary is regulation. By simply getting rid of a few old laws, we are leaving too much uncertainty. If we are to allow medically assisted or facilitated death in any form, careful regulation is an absolute necessity. This is to ensure that the "right to die" is not abused, patients are of a sound mental state to make the decision, the means of death are humane and practical, and so on. Without new laws and regulations, we leave the door open for botched suicides and unnecessary deaths, and the creation of a culture where suicide is not seen as a problem and thus not addressed. It could possibly even help to facilitate murder, if suicide in all forms is allowed and essentially ignored (as it would then be too easy to frame a murder as suicide and get away with it).  If anything threatens our morality as a society, it would be neg's proposal, for those reasons. Thus it's clear that new laws specifically providing for a medical right to die are far safer and more beneficial to society as a whole than would be abolishing any existing anti-suicide laws, which would have severely detrimental long-term results.

I await my opponent's response.

Return To Top | Posted:
2016-06-12 01:18:13
| Speak Round
CrowCrow (CON)
The affirmative is being unreasonable with their interpretation, that a "right to die" only refers to cases of medically assisted euthanasia for terminally ill patients. 

I am going to address the affirmative interpretation, but I still want the judges to acknowledge my much more broader interpretation, and if the judges find it stays truer to the spirit of the resolution, then the judges should appropriately give me the win.

The contention on how revising federal laws creates too much room for uncertainty is rubbish. The laws the affirmation wants to compose would be no more careful than the revisions I am proposing to the world's current laws on the matter. The outcomes of the revisions are going to be as sound as the time we take on them. That is true for almost anything in life. 

If you are going to talk about uncertainty, then I'd take a harder look at what the affirmative is proposing. Declaring something that is morally ambiguous and heavily conflicting is the exact definition of uncertainty. 

What does that mean for the future of how nations operate? Are we going to have our countries start expunging moral dogma as a common place? What is the next questionable value we are going to define ourselves by? Going into that territory, is pretty damn reckless and dangerous. 

Making simple law revisions to legalize forms of suicide, without actually taking an established moral position through the creation of new "rights," is just SO much safer. 

Let's focus on having several quality written laws, before we start piling more on to our already complex legal system. Revision is simply better than addition.

 This is as clear cut a debate you are going to get. 

Return To Top | Posted:
2016-06-20 08:59:31
| Speak Round

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Previous Judgments

2016-07-07 04:36:14
lannan13Judge: lannan13    TOP JUDGE
Win awarded to: Crow
2016-07-17 07:42:27
Prabhat Gupta #2Judge: Prabhat Gupta #2
Win awarded to: Crow
The reason Stag is right is because if the constitution legalizes the right to death act then many politicians , criminals will use these laws for their benefits annas188 points are right in many ways and his questions for prolonging the pain is also wonderful but every human being tries to save their beloved ones till the end and when a persons life is at stake people do not see the money

2 users rated this judgement as a vote bomb
1 user rated this judgement as biased
1 comment on this judgement
If you want to have better quality judgements, then avoid bringing in arguments of your own.
Posted 2016-08-22 00:51:21
2016-07-13 04:37:00
žan MolnarJudge: žan Molnar
Win awarded to: annas188
the arguments of annas are simply better stated and supported. Stag also made some good points although he focused more about suicides rather than what annas stated that he intended to debate about. so because of Stag not completely following the debate thesis and also because annas's arguments were again better explained and supported
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2016-07-13 16:24:34
draftermanJudge: drafterman
Win awarded to: annas188
Pro opened the debate by expanding on the resolution and providing the arguments in support of it. Con did not address these arguments and instead decided to attack an alternative interpretation of the resolution. Since Con's interpretation of the resolution was not in line with what Pro stipulated in the first round of the debate, I judge that Con did not adequately refute the resolution as presented by Pro.

Con's attempt to frame the debate in terms of "legitamizing rights" failed in that it took a too narrow view of what rights are (limited only to constitutional statements) and a too broad a view of the right to die (to include suicide in general).

Giving Con the benefit of the doubt with respect to their interpretation of the resolution, it seems clear that both sides would have been better off if they hashed our the meaning of the resolution in clear and agreed-upon terms before accepting.

The arguing between Pro and Con quickly went off track. Had Pro not had uncontested points stated in round one, this debate might been judged differently.

Lastly, the pictures posted by Con, without argument, were tactless and inappropriate. And Con should have instead utilized the forfeit rounds to present an actual case against Pro's arguments.
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2016-07-20 04:59:44
KohaiJudge: Kohai
Win awarded to: Crow
2016-07-23 19:45:39
KGNineJudge: KGNine
Win awarded to: annas188
While I feel that Stag perhaps might have had the superior points in this debate, Annas constantly built on everything previously spoken. Annas never just resorted to spewing out points all over the place, as I felt Stag was doing a fair bit. Annas also obviously put more depth into his points, in my opinion. While I almost gave the win to Stag due to his very intelligent counter-arguments, I just felt Annas was able to bring more into his argument; and I therefore award him the win.
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