“Physician Assisted Suicide" SOC120 Introduction to Ethics and Social Responsibility Shannon Sellers October 21, 2013 Should a person be allowed to ask for physician assistance to terminate their own life? This question strikes a moral debate that does not have a clear answer. Autonomy gives individuals the right to make medical decisions relating to their course of care. If a person determines they do not want life sustaining measures taken physicians are required to respect this even knowing it may result in death. When it comes to the decision to end one’s life due to a terminal illness with unmanageable pain a physician is not allowed to assist one in dying.
However, there are many pros and cons to each side of the argument. Physician-assisted suicide is unethical based on the Hippocratic Oath, but is ethical based on the patient’s views – which sometimes outweigh the morals of a physician. Physician-assisted suicide first became an issue when our society decided that it was neither moral nor ethical for a physician to help end a terminally ill patient’s life. According to Katie Pickert, Dr. Jack Kevorkian brought lots of attention to the topic during the “epic assisted suicide battle of the 1990s” (1). People who argue with Kevorkian for physician-assisted suicide feel that by helping a patient end his or her life peacefully is helpful to family and friends.
Should Euthanasia or Physician-Assisted Suicide Be Legal? Dion O. Hales SOC120 Introduction to Ethics and Social Responsibility Prof. Theodore Framan June 22, 2012 Should Euthanasia or Physician-Assisted Suicide Be Legal? While killing yourself is harder than having someone do it for you is that killing yourself requires firmer resolve, Should euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide be legal? Because a patient's last will and last testament should be honored, a competent patient's request to terminate life-sustaining treatment, and it is our moral right to prevent a person from suffering if they suffer from a disease we cannot cure. First, Should euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide be legal?
Should relieving suffering always be the highest priority or does suffering occur for a reason? Is suicide a purely individual choice? The answers to these questions depend on whom you ask because each individual has his or her own personal opinion. My purpose for writing this paper is to describe benefits and disadvantages of physician-assisted suicide and to show what ethical reasoning there is behind each point. Physician assisted suicide should be a right given to all people who are suffering from a painful, degenerative, or deadly condition.
No one has the right to decide who should live and who should die. This decision is left up to God (or whomever you worship) or fate. By legalizing Physician-Assisted Suicide and making it acceptable, this opens the door for abuse of power, breaches the Hippocratic Oath “I will not administer poison to anyone where asked," and I will "be of benefit, or at least do no harm.” However, compared to the answers given by Physicians in the 1996 survey, it seems that the Hippocratic Oath may already have some grey areas. Physicians are also human, which means they can make mistakes. (Braddock C, 1999) The diagnosing of diseases and their prognosis may be science, but it is not absolute.
For example, many people against this decision claim that it is not ethical due to the fundamental tenet of medical ethics which is “Do no harm” (Bender 37).This decision is very ethical because what is not ethical is letting an innocent person die instead of taking the route of assisted suicide. If the person suffering was a relative of another person will they think twice not to because it is their loved ones suffering. By defining ethics it is related to a moral principle in which many differ from principles and standards. Another debate can be that assisted suicide is not a constitutional right. Assisted suicide is a choice which the constitution does support freedom of choice.
Nevertheless, the technologies also prolong the dying processes, leading some people to question whether modern medicine is forcing patients to live in unnecessary pain when there is no chance they will be cured. “Passive euthanasia—disconnecting a respirator or removing a feeding tube has become an accepted solution to this dilemma. Active euthanasia perhaps an overdose of pills or a deadly injection of morphine remains controversial “(McDougall,
When one withholds the treatment needed for one to survive this is passive euthanasia. This would be keeping respirators away, treatments that are not opposed by the legal system, and procedures. Active euthanasia is purposely bringing death to someone else by certain actions taken (Gorman). In the U.S. individuals have been given the right to make an Advance Directive that gives the person the right as one’s voice when they become unable to make medical decisions. This Directive is assigned to someone they can put trust into so they would be able to know be the persons voice in making decisions (Advance Directives and Medical Power of Attorney).Voluntary euthanasia takes place when a person makes the choice to end one’s life; non-voluntary euthanasia takes place when a person has not asked or consented to death.
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
In this case, the practice is able to end one’s life in a peaceful manner, while a financial and emotional burden can also be lifted off of the family members. In the eyes of others, euthanasia is an act that goes against God’s will and the idea that death is spiritually important and shouldn’t be altered (BBC, 2009). Aside from the fact that euthanasia is also referred to as “mercy killing”, it is still the act of murder—an unlawful premeditated killing of another human being (Answers, n.d.). I personally am against the practice of euthanasia because it is immoral and wrongful. Recurrently, there are cases where patients aren’t given a choice when it comes to euthanasia.