Critical analysis of a woman’s choice the gendered risks of voluntary euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide

Document Type:Research Paper

Subject Area:Law

Document 1

D. candidate at the University of Sydney. Published in 2007, the article delves on “euthanasia and Physician-assisted suicide debate”. The article raises several concerns on the debates favoring instituting assisted death. Among the concerns raised in the article include the risks of suicide normalization, coercion, and non-voluntary euthanasia, and fallibility of the medical diagnosis among others. As such, the author answers the question; “Is it logical to institutionalize end-of-life decisions before addressing the women’s gender risk on euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide”? The author acknowledges the importance of women who have, historically, struggled to make independent choices concerning their lives and bodies. For example, women have found it difficult to get equitable justice in their family and marriage life, financial autonomy, liberty to make decisions about their body and freedom from violence at home and workplace.

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The argument is that the fact that “women show a strong preference for euthanasia, which is a more structured and passive method of assisted death”, suggests that they could be exhibiting their unique reasons for assisted suicide different from their male counterparts. She also highlights the present studies that suggest that men are more susceptible to assisted suicide than women. In fact, if disproportionate numbers of women were deciding to go for euthanasia and assisted suicide then it would suggest that women are more susceptible than their male counterparts, for the former have less autonomy than the latter. 3 In other words, the author could be interpreted to suggest that for a legislative agenda to have the desired positive impact on women on the equal measure, these underlying forces such as violence against women, inequalities on socio-economic grounds, and oppressive cultural stereotypes idealizing sacrifices associated with female reinforcing the gender prejudice.

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The author explores possible reasons why women would decide to go for assisted death, going deeper to dismiss some explanations as lacking evidence. The reasons include: I. Women being over-concerned about self-determination in death, pointing to their longstanding challenges with regards to making choices about their lives and bodies; II. Women’s life expectancy is longer than their male counterparts, hence more prone to age-related complications such as disabilities. Second, there is empirical evidence that women’s life expectancy is higher than that of men, which means they are likely to suffer more diseases particularly the age-related complications, disability, and isolation than their male counterparts. The fact that women live longer supports the argument that they are likely to ask for assisted suicide in the old age to relieve them and their loved ones the pain of being taken care of.

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But this argument is discounted by studies that suggest that suicide rates do not increase as people grow old. In fact, more data suggest that there is a declining trend to participate in physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia as people age. The third explanation points to women living devoid of liberty to make their own choices and suggests an oppressive experience woman go through in relation to social and cultural contexts. ”6 While Katrina George takes the dimension of analyzing empirical studies, taking on the analysis with the help of researches in the general field of assisted suicide and euthanasia, Guichon et al. takes the case-by-case analysis to support the suitability of the mature minors being allowed the liberty to make choices on whether to choose assisted death.

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It is worth noting that despite Katrina George’s legal background, she opted to approach her study in a more social perspective, putting the legal standing aside to advance her thinking about the assisted suicide and euthanasia aside. First, Katrina starts her argument by raising pertinent issues such if there is a need to legalize assisted death with the same risks associated with female genders societal barriers barrier limiting their independent decision-making. Guichon et al. This line of analysis, though differs from the methodology advanced by Katrina George, has a similar line of argument presented by latter. The only difference is that Decka focuses on constitutional liberty, as opposed to Katrina’s social barriers associated with legalizing assisted suicide. I consider Decka’s analysis more convincing, as it not only espouses the social issues affecting the physically disabled persons seeking independence to have choices about their lives but also forwarded enough legal dimension of the challenges facing the disadvantages in the society.

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For example, while Katrina George focuses on mainly the gender perspective, she completely ignores the legal dimensions of the arguments, despite her legal background. Guichon et al. This is despite the existing judicial recognition of the fundamental existence of autonomy11. In fact, it is prudent to acknowledge that it is basically a progressive dimension of argument to support access to physician-assisted death and euthanasia, thereby advancing the judicial discourse of inequality as far as disability is concerned. In line with the desire to highlight the positive impact of Justice Smith’s judgment, it is important to critically view the previous judgment against this case as the overall perception of physically disadvantaged people, technically working against people perceived to lack normal bodies.

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