Physician assisted suicide Essay
Physician assisted suicide
Physician assisted suicide (PAS) and Euthanasia have been the most debated topics of recent times. Let us compare and contrast physician assisted suicide (PAS) Laws of New Oregon and the Euthanasia policy of Netherlands. New Oregon is the only US state that legally permits PAS (Marker, R. L. , 2004). Netherlands and Belgium permit both PAS and euthanasia (Marker, R. L. , 2004). Other countries such as Switzerland and Colombia have tolerated euthanasia, but have not developed a legal system (Exacom, 2006). The Netherlands Law and the New Oregon Law are different from one another.
In PAS, the physician is permitted to arrange all the equipment and situation required for death of the patient. However, the last act that would be directly responsible for death is performed by the patient (such as swallowing a lethal dose of a pill) (Marker, R. L. , 2004). On the other hand, euthanasia is a procedure in which the physician is permitted to conduct an act that would directly be responsible for the death of the patient (Marker, R. L. , 2004). Studies have suggested that the New Oregon mode of putting an end to the patient may be unsuccessful in about 25% of the patients (Maine Right to Life, 2006).
Physicians can only prescribe the drugs (usually oral pills) and not administer the drug (such as by injections). Studies conducted in Netherlands (when only PAS was permitted) showed that 60% of all cases of PAS were successful, whereas the remaining 40% cases struggled between life and death for a few hours or days (Maine Right to Life, 2006). The New Oregon law permitting PAS was passed in 1997 (Liptak, A. , 2004), whereas the Dutch law permitting euthanasia was cleared in 2001 (Exacom, 2006). However, the Dutch have accepted PAS in their system, long before it was passed in their Parliament.
Euthanasia or PAS can be performed in individuals suffering from a medical condition that would ultimately result in death. The New Oregon Law has been more specific in defining the condition in which PAS would be available. It defines the term ‘terminal illness’ clearly (any medical condition, after applying reasonable medical judgment, would produce a fatal outcome within 6 months time) (Marker, R. L. , 2004). However, this may not always be definite, as studies have shown that about 10% of the individuals with a terminal illness lived longer than 6 months.
Netherlands on the other hand, have defined ‘terminal’ as ‘concrete expectancy of death’ (Marker, R. L. , 2004). The Dutch physicians are less likely to make predictions about the period the patient is going to live. They are not aware of the definition the terminal condition. They only feel that the patient’s illness is going to seriously cut down life. The Netherlands law gives more responsibility and freedom to physician that would commit the act. Individuals who are both physically and mentally ill can undergo euthanasia, leaving it to the physician to decide (Marker, R. L. , 2004). However, New Oregon has been stricter.
As the last act is performed by the patient, patients have to be fully sound in the mind to know what they are doing. Much more autonomy is given to the patients in New Oregon. The chances of the law being ethically abused are much less than the Netherlands Law. In the Netherlands, the law is being abused more often. Before the 2001 law came into being PAS was an accepted procedure (Maine Right to Life, 2006). It was available first only to patient (adults) who requested it. However, with time the standards have degraded, and it was even practiced in non-voluntary circumstances and children with terminal illnesses.
People suffering from chronic illnesses can also avail euthanasia. Besides, the Dutch Law also permits people with mental illnesses to undergo euthanasia, as the decision is usually left to the physician. References: Boyd, A. D. (2006). Physician-Assisted Suicide: For and Against. Retrieved December 14, 2006, from American Medical Student Association Web site: http://www. amsa. org/bio/pas. cfm Exacom (2006). Dutch Euthanasia. Retrieved December 14, 2006, from Exacom. net Web site http://www. exacom. net/firstlibrary/News/Life%20issues/Euthanasia/Dutch%20EU%206%20parts. htm#1legal Liptak, A. , & Kershaw, S.
(2004, may 27). Ruling upholds law authorizing assisted suicide. The New York Times. http://query. nytimes. com/gst/fullpage. html? res=9903E2DF133EF934A15756C0A9629C8B63&sec=health&spon=&pagewanted=1 Maine Right to Life (2006). Euthanasia. Retrieved December 14, 2006, from Maine Right to Life Committee Web site: http://www. mainerighttolife. com/euthanasia. php Marker, R. L. , & Hamlon, K. (2004). Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide: Frequently Asked Questions. Retrieved December 14, 2006, from International Task Force on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide Web site: http://www. internationaltaskforce. org/faq. htm