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Bee Thao

Sloan Hobbs
English 111 – 054
Paper #2: The Evaluation Essay

Legalized Suicide As Opposed to Hospice

In the 1990s, there was a great deal of commotion involving the issue of physician-

assisted suicide. Two authors took it upon themselves to write their arguments down. Faye

Girsh’s article, “Should Physician-Assisted Suicide Be Legalized? Yes!”, explains that

physician-assisted suicide has helped to ease the pain of many terminally ill patients. Joe

Loconte provides an alternative to suicide in his article “Hospice, Not Hemlock: The Medical

and Moral Rebuke to Doctor-Assisted Suicide”, which deals with the many outstanding

contributions of hospice care to terminally ill patients. The criteria used in determining that

Girsh presents a better argument than Loconte is: first, the use of conditions of rebuttal; second,

the variety and use of acceptable appeals; and lastly, the strength of the argument as evident in its

overall acceptability as a valid argument.

Both articles are well written and provide conditions of rebuttal; however, Girsh

examines more conditions in her article than can be found in “Hospice, Not Hemlock”. This

shows that Girsh has a more open argument, which incorporates many of the opinions of

opponents into her own argument. This is evident in the statement, “Even with the best of

hospice care people want to know that there can be some way to shorten a tortured dying

process” (Girsh 724). Girsh also mentions the use of religion in the argument for physician-

assisted suicide, and she continues in saying “the argument has since shifted to ‘protection of the

vulnerable’ [because] [m]ost Americans do not want to be governed by religious beliefs they

don’t share” (726). In “Hospice, Not Hemlock”, Loconte addresses the same argument in
presenting facts which support the role of religion in death. Religion is the only explanation for

what may or may not happen to the human soul when the body dies. Therefore, many terminally

ill patients have questions that “must be answered by somebody who knows the person’s faith”

(Loconte 731). Loconte and Girsh have included one more condition of rebuttal in their

respective articles. This condition of rebuttal involves the alleviation of pain that is result of a

terminal illness (733). While these conditions of rebuttal may not be completely evident in both

articles, it is very fascinating that a condition of rebuttal in one article may be indirectly or

directly affirmed and reputed in the other article. Even though Girsh examines more conditions

of rebuttal in her article than Loconte examines in his, it is evident that both articles provide

great insight into the debate surrounding physician-assisted suicide. However, it must be

affirmed, that according to the first criterion, Girsh presents a better article using conditions of

rebuttal.

The variety and use of appeals is evident in the effective use of any combination of

appeals to the reasoning, values, and emotions of the readers. Examples of such are found in

both articles, wherein Girsh focuses more on logic and reasoning as opposed to Loconte’s

appeals to values and emotions. Each article shares common ground in their use of the appeal to

ethical values. Girsh argues that people want to have the choice to end their life if they so chose.

This course of action leads to “repeated testimonials to the fact that people can live longer and

with less anguish once they know that help will be available if they want to end it” (Girsh 725).

Loconte also supplies comments on the issue of the choice to end one’s life, affirming that it is

morally wrong, thereby warranting the use of hospice as a morally correct choice as opposed to

the immoral act of suicide (Loconte 734). As shown, the arguments presented in one article

contest the arguments presented in the other article. “We have the right to commit suicide and
the right to refuse unwanted medical treatment, including food and water” (Girsh 724); as

opposed to a Christian argument proposed by Loconte, “[your life] is not your own; you were

bought at a price [therefore] we are not in control of our lives” (Loconte 734). Each argument

flows smoothly with the bulk of the article and is effective in presenting the argument in terms

that would be understood by the audience, which is an educated American. Most Americans

know basic Christian beliefs, and it can be said that every American values their agency, as

evident in the Bill of Rights. However, since not all Americans are Christian, nor do all

Americans share Christian views on the afterlife, Loconte’s argument is not as widely

acceptable. While it is truth to one person, it is pure fallacy to another. Girch writes, “[m]ost

Americans do not want to be governed by religious beliefs they don’t share” (Girch 726).

Hence, Girch’s article is superior in its effective use of acceptable appeals.

In many cases, an argument must be logical to be considered acceptable and valid. As a

logical argument, there must be proof that an argument is true. While each article provides

sound statistics and substantial proof to support their respective arguments, much of the logic

and reasoning behind Loconte’s “Hospice, Not Hemlock”, is based upon religious principles.

Religion, by definition, is illogical because it has its basis in faith, a belief in things that have no

logical support. Thus, Loconte’s argument cannot be acceptable and valid to all Americans.

Aside from this one fallacy, Loconte presents testimonials and stories which inspire terminally ill

patients to choose hospice instead of physician-assisted suicide. Such stories include the

miraculous and prolonged life of a terminally ill patient “that seems to defy the rules of

medicine” (Loconte 734). Girsh presents no great fallacy and concludes in an equally strong

fashion with stories and instances of “desperately ill people” dying in obscure locations in

potentially hazardous and unpredictable fashions (Girsh 727). In light of this scare tactic
conclusion to Girsh’s article, I must conclude that Girsh’s article is, overall, more valid and

acceptable than Loconte’s article.

Each article examined presented a well thought out argument. Both arguments were well

written, however, the article written by Faye Girsh, “Should Physician-Assisted Suicide Be

Legalized? Yes!” presents a better argument than “Hospice, Not Hemlock”, written by Joe

Loconte. It can be concluded that Girsh’s article is a better argument under the criteria used in

this evaluation, the criteria being: first, the use of conditions of rebuttal; second, the strength and

use of acceptable appeals; and lastly, the strength of the argument as evident in its overall

acceptability as a valid argument. Girsh creates a more open argument through the use of

numerous conditions of rebuttal and examines more logical and reasonable claims, resulting in a

more acceptable and valid argument.


Works Cited

Girsh, Faye. “Should Physician-Assisted Suicide Be Legalized? Yes!” Insight 8 March 1999:

np. Reprinted in Lunsford, Andrea A., John J. Ruszkiewicz, and Keith Walters.

everything’s an argument: with readings. 2nd ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2001.

723-27.

Loconte, Joe. “Hospice, Not Hemlock: The Medical and Moral Rebuke to Doctor-Assisted

Suicide” Policy Review: The Journal of American Citizenship March/April1998: np

Reprinted in Lunsford, Andrea A., John J. Ruszkiewicz, and Keith Walters. everything’s

an argument: with readings. 2nd ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2001. 729-35.