Suicide And Physician Assisted Suicide

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Final Paper Suicide is defined as the act of ending your own life. Prior to the Suicide Act 1961 it was illegal to commit suicide and anyone who tried and failed would be subject to legal proceedings and possible detention. The Suicide Act 1961 brought a change to the law so that suicide is no longer a considered a criminal act. However, it is still illegal to aid another person in taking their own life. Section 2(1) of the Suicide Act 1961 states that “A person who aids, abets, counsels or procures the suicide of another, or an attempt by another to commit suicide, shall be liable on conviction on indictment to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years”. Many see suicide as an individual's 'right'. As long as the person is sane…show more content…
Is this true? Do we have 'rights' that extend to ending our own lives? Is it possible to kill yourself without there being consequences for other people? And how much importance should the effects on others be given? Some similar issues are also raised by physician assisted suicide (PAS). PAS may be asked for by a patient who wishes to die but is unable to commit suicide without help from another. The degree of help needed will depend upon how capable the patient is. Some may ask for a lethal drug which they can then take themself. For others who are more incapacitated, PAS could involve setting up a mechanism whereby the patient merely has to 'press a button' to receive a lethal injection. Physician assisted suicide clearly has consequences for another person since it requires involvement of another. The issue of whether human beings and more pointedly, doctors have the right to help others die has been in the public disagreement for a very long time. The Hippocratic Oath, which was estimated to be written in the fourth century B.C., includes the statement “I will not give a lethal drug to anyone if I am asked, nor will I…show more content…
Why should the non-terminal nature of one's suffering exclude one from qualifying or make it more difficult for one to qualify as a fitting subject for suicide? To be sure, the person with a non-terminal illness has longer to live, and should that person choose to commit suicide, he or she would be eliminating a greater span of future existence But according to Kamisar such a person is also “eliminating a proportionately greater quantum of pain and suffering, and if the smaller quantum justifies the elimination of the shorter span of life, then the greater quantum might justify the elimination of the longer span”. Surely, he observes, "Under a variety of circumstances life may be unendurable to a reasonable person, even though he does not face the prospect of immediate and painful death." If a competent person comes to the unhappy conclusion that his existence is unbearable and freely, clearly, and repeatedly requests assisted suicide, why should he be denied because he does not "qualify" under somebody else's standards? Isn't this an illogical restriction of self-determination and personal autonomy? "How," asks Daniel Callahan, "can self-determination have any limits? Why are not the person's desires or motives, whatever they be,

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