Physician Assisted Suicide Essay

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 4 January 2017

Physician Assisted Suicide

Physician Assisted Suicide (Physician Assisted Suicide) also referred to as Physician Aid-in-dying (PAD) is practice in which a physician assist a terminally patient in the termination of his/her own life by prescribing a deadly/lethal medication. “The term physician aid-in-dying is used to describe the practice authorized under the Washington and Oregon Death with Dignity Acts….” Starks (2009). In other words physician aid-in dying is the politically correct term. The act is only legal if the patient is terminally ill, has six months or less to live and must be mentally stable to make their own decision. I think Physician Assisted Suicide is unjust because I am a Christian, and based on my religion, it is against the law of God to take the life of another human being. Honestly I must say I contradict myself when it comes to this topic.

In my personal opinion I would say Physician Assisted Suicide is ethically permissible because I feel the patient should be allowed to make their own decision when it relates to their own life. A physician’s job is to help alleviate the patient’s pain and if the patient has an illness that cannot be cured and the physician is sure there really is no more he can do for the patient why not aid the in dying. I think it will make things a little easier and more convenient because if a person really is tired of suffering they may decide to end their own life which may be very messy and will cause more devastation to the patient’s family. With the physician’s assistance, the family will be prepared and there will not be a big mess to clean up. From the outside looking in, no one knows what the patient is going through or how much they are suffering; no one understands how they may feel or how much pain they can bare. If they feel death would relieve them from their misery and remove the suffering, I think it should be their decision. I really do not see a difference in Physician Assisted Suicide and the refusal of life sustaining treatment (which is legal).

If a person refuses treatment which without will cause them to die is it not the same as committing suicide, the only difference is the process will take a longer time period. Dr Timothy Quill states “the analogy is of one person sitting on the beach waiting for the tide to come in to drown and then another person walking into the ocean to drown.” Boyd (ND) When considering Physician Assisted Suicide and my religion I must disagree, though I am for people being allowed to make their own decisions when it comes to their own life my religion convicts me and tells me I am wrong because no matter how I feel about this situation personally it is still wrong in the eyes of God. Everyone is at fault, the physician is wrong because the bible says it is a sin to cause harm to someone or to take the life of another persons, even though the intentions are good it is against the laws of God. The patient is wrong because it is a sin the take your own life and it is wrong for all who are in connection with the act and allowing it to take place.

God loves us and he does not want us to suffer in pain or live a sad helpless, hopeless life, he will never put more on us than we can bare, even before he created us he knew what time we would be born and he knows the same about when we will die, who are we to try to take control over this? God performs amazing miracles, I have seen him do it, who is to say, before someone decides to end their life, and just before the physician administer the lethal medication, God does not allow for a breakthrough and heal the person. People do not have faith like they should and they do not believe this can be done therefore this is not a risk they are willing to take, most would rather take the easy road and do anything to relieve the suffering right now. Unfortunately, the bulk of this responsibility falls on the physician.

Physicians care about their patients, their goal is to find out what is wrong with the patient, diagnose the patient with what they prove to be wrong and then treat the patient until they can either cure the illness or try to extend their life expectancy as long as possible. Ethical egoist may interpret Physician Assisted Suicide as a selfish act, for example, they could insist the physician is abusing the act by pressuring a terminally ill patient or their family to end the life of the patient by advising them it would be for the best because the patient is suffering and there is nothing more he/she can do for the patient. Of course the family would consider what the physician is saying because they do not want their family member to suffer, however, the physician may only be doing what he feel is best for the patient, at the same time a physician should never bring up this topic for discussion, he should allow the patient to address the concern first. There are many ethical issues facing assisted suicide.

Many people get “the right-to-die” confused with “assisted suicide”. “While “right-to-die” cases are different than “assisted suicide” cases — right-to-die usually refers to the removal of feeding tubes or ventilators keeping unconscious or vegetative patients alive, as opposed to people actively deciding to end their lives”. (Pickert, 2009) Though Physician Assisted Suicide is considered unethical and illegal, recently there have been more calls in favor of its legalization. Some professional arguments in favor of Physician Assisted Suicide are respect for autonomy; self-determination, covering the facts that people should have the right to make their own decisions, they should be able to determine their own place, date and time of death if they wish. Another argument in favor is justice; fairness, this argument takes the matter to a legal level, it allows the patient the right to refuse treatment to perpetuate their life.

Compassion; sympathy is argues that suffering is worse that the pain itself, it causes a person to breakdown physically, mentally, and emotionally due to the lack of independence, one may feel like a burden to others, physicians can give medicines to relieve pain but there is no cure for suffering. Honesty and Transparency would open doors for discussions and options, if it was legal is would make it easier for people to talk about it and for physicians to provide better care concerning the end of a person’s life. To this day people are still fighting to make assisted suicide legal. “Each year for 14 years, Wisconsin legislators have introduced an assisted-suicide bill. So far, all have died in committee, but 2007’s version is still on the table. California, Hawaii, Arizona and Vermont have repeatedly rebuffed assisted-suicide proposals, but each has faced another proposal in 2007. Most of these bills are virtually identical to Oregon’s assisted suicide law”. (Enouen, 2012) I’m sure many have heard or read or about Dr. Kevorkian, who was also in favor of Physician Assisted Suicide, in 1998 administered a lethal injection to his then patient Thomas Youk, on the 60 minutes TV show.

In Oakland County, Michigan Physician Assisted Suicide is considered illegal therefore “Kevorkian was convicted of second degree murder in 1998, and sentenced to a 15-25 year term of which he served 8 years, and was released in 2007” Starks (2009). I’m sure Dr. Kevorkian has been Mr. York’s doctor for many years. I sure they had build a relationship together and Dr. Kevorkian care about him, therefore I’m sure it was not an easy task for the physician to complete, however he (Dr. Kevorkian) did what he felt was best for his patient. On the opposite end there is another group of professionals who oppose Physician Assisted Suicide arguing that it is ethically impermissible. Sanctity of life; due to religious reasons Physician Assisted Suicide is morally wrong.

Exodus 20:13 states “Thou shalt not kill,” Brodman & Holman (1979). “A 1997 study conducted by the American Medical Association (AMA) found that more than half of Americans believe physician-assisted suicide should be legal. Many patients decided to choose assisted suicide because they are afraid of the pain they will endure cause by their illness. There are some alternatives to assisted suicide such as pain management, to make the patients as comfortable as possible. “With very rare exceptions, physical pain can be eliminated or brought within tolerable limits by aggressive drug therapy-therapy which need not leave the patient in a stupor……. Pain also has a psychological dimension which, if appropriately addressed, can significantly reduce the patient’s experience of physical pain. The isolation of illness can be reduced through the support of families and the community, as well as the creation of a caring environment in which one is treated”. (Linton, 1993)

However, when people are told about alternatives to the technological treatments so many of us fear, and about the availability of pain control and hospice care, their support for physician-assisted suicide goes down to under one-fifth. This study seems to show that when people are informed about all of their end-of-life choices, they are less likely to opt for suicide.” Lynn & Harrold (1999, 2006) Many argue that there is a passive vs. active distinction; passive is when one is allowed to die, active is killing someone. When someone refuse treatment or treatment is withheld and they die it is considered justified however when Physician Assisted Suicide is used it is murder and unjustifiable. Others argue that it could be a potential cause for abuse, poor populations with minimal healthcare may be pushed towards Physician Assisted Suicide, and it may become a cost efficient “way out”. If a family member is a burden to the family, and for insurance purposes, these too may be causes for leaning towards Physician Assisted Suicide.

Another argument against Physician Assisted Suicide is professional integrity, it relates to the Hippocratic Oath which states “I will not administer poison to anyone where asked,” and I will “be of benefit, or at least do no harm,” Starks (2009) this is the oath that ALL physicians must take before officially becoming doctors. If they agree to Physician Assisted Suicide they are going against the pledge they agreed to, this could initially cause harm to the “integrity and the public‘s image of the profession,” it may also make it difficult for patients to trust them. Lastly and maybe the most important argument is fallibility of the profession; the fear that physicians could make mistakes, possibly misdiagnosis or prognosis. “There may be errors in diagnosis or treatment of depression, or inadequate treatment of pain.

Thus the State has an obligation to protect lives from these inevitable mistakes and to improve the quality of pain and symptom management at the end of life.” Starks (2009) I think the more research I do agree that Physician Assisted Suicide should remain illegal. I solely make this decision based on my religion. Who are we to make judgment on when to end lives? We did not give life to ourselves or anyone else. I think she should have faith in God and know that he will never put more on you than you can bear. Suicide and assisting someone in a suicide is wrong.

As it states in Numbers 35:30, “whoso killeth any person, the murderer shall be put to death by the mouth of witnesses: but one witness shall not testify against any person to cause him to die.” Brodman & Holman (1979) People speak of showing compassion and caring for others, “killing is not compassion. That is Orwellian Newspeak, a language without meaning. If love is death and mercy is killing, then words mean nothing.” St. Clair (2009 Unfortunately the future affects of assisted suicide is currently undetermined. I personally think people will continue to fight for assisted suicide to become legal, however I do not think this will take place because wither way you look at it, many will still consider this murder.

If I was in this situation and had to decide whether to allow my family member to live and suffer or allow them to end their life, I would choose to let them live, based only on my religion and knowing who my God is. This does not mean I wish for my loved one to live in pain or uncomfortable, however this does put my Lord and savior to the test. Through my religion and being raised as Christian I have learned that God will not put more on you than you can bare. At a time like this I will turn to what is known, in my religion, as a secret weapon, and at this point I will fast and pray. I will not ask God to allow my loved one to live or die, however I will ask that his will be done, and if it is his will for my loved one to live I ask for a full quick recovery, if it’s God’s will to discontinue their life, I will only ask for peace.

No matter what situation I encounter I put God first and he enables me to make precise decisions. Personally I feel it must be very difficult to watch as a person you love and care for lay helpless, in pain, suffering from an illness, watching as they deteriorate not only physically, but mentally, spiritually and emotionally. Stepping outside of my spiritual realm I would feel terrible because I would feel I am allowing my loved one to suffer even if they had asked to be “put down” I may feel God is not healing fast enough and things are not going the way I think they should. Only for the love of the my loved one and to relieve their suffering would I agree with physician assisted suicide, however I think in the end I will feel terrible because I would have assisted in the role to determine when to end their life, knowing it was not my decision to make and not knowing if God was going to open a door and make way for a breakthrough for them to overcome the illness.

Just knowing my God I know he can perform miracles and he can make a way out of no way, the hardest thing to do is to be patient. Therefore in the meantime, I would do what I could to make my loved one as comfortable as possible; I will encourage them and continue to pray. I cannot honestly say how I would react in this situation; just the thought of hearing of the death of a loved one and their request to end their life makes me feel as if my heart has been cut in half. At the same time it makes me ask myself, am I being selfish? Do I only want my loved one to live because I love them and I do not feel ready to deal with the death of them? Do their feelings even matter to me? Do I not care that they are suffering? There is so much more to making this decision than I have not really given thought to. If I do agree with the assisted suicide, how would the rest of my life go, will I have to live with the weight on my shoulders that I assisted in the death of my loved?

Now this is something I do not think I can live with, just the pressure in the back of my mind would potentially cause depression to set in which will lead to other problems in my life as far as preventing me from giving myself fully to the remainder of my family and being all that I can be, it may also affect my job performance and other areas of my life. I do not think that is something I want to cope with. Therefore I think I would allow the doctors to do all they can do to make my loved one comfortable and ease their pain; I will pray sit back and allow God’s will to be done. I will try to make the last days as enjoyable as possible by spending as much time with them as I can and talking with them, reminiscing about our lives together and special memories. Until Physician Assisted Suicide is legalized nationwide, it should be brought to the forefront and to the attention of the public.

Many do not know of this practice until they are face to face with having to make a life or death decision, or until they or a family member is on their death bed. The public should be educated on Physician Assisted Suicide, not to persuade them to agree but for information purposes, they will base their decision on their own understanding, however until everyone gets a full understanding they will all be skeptical. There is a big debate in the topic of Physician Assisted Suicide and both sides present convincing arguments, however it does not look as if an agreement is in the near future, however the Supreme Court did allow each state to pass their own laws on Physician Assisted Suicide and whether it would be legalized or not, nevertheless, as of right now the only state where it is legal is in Oregon, which means at the present moment, if a patient decides he/she wants to terminate his/her life they will need to book a flight to Oregon.

Andrew D. Boyd, University of Texas Southwestern at Dallas, Physician-Assisted Suicide: For and Against (ND) Retrieved from…Docs/PhysicianAssistedSuicide.sflb.ashx Brodman & Holman Publishers, King James Version (1979)

Enouen, S. (2012) Life Issues Institute. Current Attempts to Legalize Assisted Suicide in the U.S.
Retrieved from Helen Starks, PhD, MPH Assistant Professor, Bioethics and Humanities (2009) Retrieved from http://depts.washingtonedu/bioethx/topics/pad Jane St. Clair,
30 Logical Reasons Against Physician-Assisted Suicide (2009) Retrieved from Joanne Lynn, M.D. and Joan Harrold, M.D, Handbook for Mortals: Hastening Death: Arguments against physician-assisted suicide (1999, 2006) Retrieved from Linton, P.B., (1993) Chicago Tribune. Better Solutions Than Assisted Suicide. December 26, 1993 Retrieved from Pickert, K. (2009). Time U.S. A Brief History of Assisted Suicide. March 03, 2009. Retrieved


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