36). Ravaged by diseases beyond their control, these patients are empowered by the fact that they can still assert their own will in determining when and how their lives will end (McCord, 1993, p. 28). By enforcing their final wishes, they retain a shred of dignity by consciously and courageously embracing the moment of death (McCord, 1993, p. 28). In America, approximately 75% of all dying Americans die in nursing homes and hospitals unconsciously, with tubes sticking out of their body ("Last rights," 1997, p. 22).
The call for physician-assisted suicide comes in an era when life can be prolonged by medical technology. By relying upon machines for their survival, the power of the dying patients has been wrested away from them (Kass and Lund, 1996, p. 21). In the United States, many old people receive futile treatments that have no effect other than prolonging their existence, without improving the quality of life ("Last rights," 1997, p. 24).
Physician-assisted suicide is not an option to be used wantonly. Patients who suffer from severely deteriorating diseases with no likely prospect of recovery should have the right to get help from their physicians to terminate their lives by choice. These people suffer from diseases such as multiple sclerosis, end-stage lung disease, advanced brain cancer, etc. For many of them, hospice care does not alleviate their suffering. Not only do they suffer from unbearable pain, th