The Constitutionality of Physician Assisted Suicide Essay

The Constitutionality of Physician Assisted Suicide Essay

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Physicians assisted suicide (PAS) refers to interventions by a doctor that either intentionally assist a patient to die (as in giving the patient the lethal means to end their own life at their explicit request), or directly ends a patient’s life (as in a lethal medication administered by a doctor at the explicit request of the patient – euthanasia). In recent years the debate over a patient’s possible right to the aid of a physician in committing suicide has become one of the most discussed issues in medical ethics. The argument for and against PAS is not something unique to this century. It has been going on since the time of the ancient Greeks. The Hippocratic Oath has been called the most widely known of Greek medical texts. It required that physicians promise to uphold a number of professional ethical standards. One of these ethical standards included a statement on the practice of physician assisted suicide, “I will not give a lethal drug to anyone if I am asked, nor will I advise such a plan.” Those who support the legalization of physician assisted suicide see it as a merciful, gentle death that protects the dying from what they fear most- not only excruciating pain, but the loss of their dignity. The issue of whether or not American citizens have the right to die via physician assisted suicide has questions rooted in the constitutionality of its prohibition. In the United States this issue is argued by proponents who claim the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment explicitly protects one’s right to when and how they want to die, but ultimately the interpretation of the Constitution is left up to The Supreme Court.
In 1997 two Federal court cases arguing for physician assisted suicide were brought before the Su...


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... (accessed April 27, 2014).
Rehnquist, William. "Vacco v. Quill - 521 U.S. 793 (1997)." Justia US Supreme Court Center. http://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/521/793/case.html (accessed April 27, 2014).
Rehnquist, William. "Washington v. Glucksberg - 521 U.S. 702 (1997)." Justia US Supreme Court Center. http://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/521/702/case.html (accessed April 27, 2014).
Richards, Edward P.. "SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS PROHIBITIONS ON ASSISTED SUICIDE." SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS PROHIBITIONS ON ASSISTED SUICIDE. http://biotech.law.lsu.edu/cases/pro_lic/vacco_glucks_brief.htm (accessed April 27, 2014).
National Archives and Records Administration. "The Constitution of the United States: Amendments 11-27." National Archives and Records Administration. http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/constitution_amendments_11-27.html (accessed April 25, 2014).

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