Physician Assisted Suicide: Right To Life Or Death?

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Physician Assisted Suicide: Right to Life or Right to Death? Sarah Ku
University of Kansas School of Nursing
Sarah Kathleen Ku is from Overland Park, Kansas. While attending the KU School of Nursing she was the recipient of the Brisley Scholarship. She has also been named to the Dean’s honor roll for the University of Kansas for all eight semesters. She hopes to begin her career in an acute care medical surgical environment in the Kansas City area. Her career goals include completing graduate degrees in nursing with an eventual long range plan of becoming an undergraduate nursing educator. I would like to acknowledge David Martin, my legal/ethical class professor. If it were not for this individual, I would have never written this paper.
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These questions include: Who is the true owner of our lives? Should relieving suffering always be the highest priority or does suffering occur for a reason? Is suicide a purely individual choice (Mathes, 2004)?
The answers to the above questions are subjective, yet healthcare workers deal with the difficult issues associated with end-of-life care on a daily basis. Since patients and families frequently ask nurses to provide information about support in dying, it is important for nurses to thoroughly understand the topic of physician assisted suicide regardless of whether it is legally permitted within the State where they are working (Ersek, 2004). The purpose of this paper is to describe benefits and disadvantages of assisted suicide and to discuss the ethical reasoning behind both of these opposing viewpoints.
Review of Literature
Throughout the literature, there are many arguments that support the prohibition of physician assisted suicide. One of the most obvious arguments is that health care providers are
The Journal of Undergraduate Nursing Writing. 4:1. July 2010.
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(de Vocht & Nyatanga, 2007). This principle of nonmaleficence can be traced back in time to Hippocrates, a Greek physician, who states this duty as “I (healthcare provider) will use treatment to help the sick according to my ability and judgment, but I will never use it to injure or wrong them” (Beauchamp & Childress, 2009, p. 149). In other words, this statement can be interpreted as “do no harm”. The American Nurses’ Association supports the notion that active participation in assisted suicide goes against the ANA Code of Ethics for Nurses (2001). Helping a client take their own life is not only in contrast with ethical traditions of nursing but it could also discourage clients from seeking out medical care due to fear (Ersek,
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