Assisted Suicide Euthanasia Essay

785 Words2 Pages
Switzerland has an unusual position on assisted suicide as it is legally condoned and can be performed by non-physicians. The involvement of a physician is usually considered a necessary safeguard in assisted suicide and euthanasia. Physicians are trusted not to misuse these practices and they are believed to know how to make sure a painless death. Besides, the law has explicitly separated the issue of whether or not assisting death should be allowed in some circumstances and, whether physicians should do it. This splitting up has not resulted in moral desensitization of assisted suicide and euthanasia.

Article 115 of the Swiss penal code considers assisting suicide a crime if and only if the motive is selfish. It actually condones assisting suicide for altruistic reasons. Normally, the permissibility of altruistic assisted suicide cannot be overridden by a duty to save life. Article 115 does not necessitate the involvement of a physician nor that the patient to be terminally ill. It only necessitate that the motive be unselfish. This dependence on a base motive rather than on the intent to kill to define a crime is foreign to Anglo-Saxon jurisprudence, but it can be crucial in continental Europe.

Swiss law does not consider suicide a crime or assisting suicide as involvement of a crime. It views suicide as possibly rational. Besides, it does not give physicians a special status in assisting it. A police inquiry is started when an assisted suicide is declared, as in all cases of “unnatural death.” In view of the fact that no crime has been committed in the absence of a selfish motive, these are regularly open and shut cases. Prosecution takes place if doubts are raised on the patient's competence to make an a...

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...ravel to a suicide clinic had no serious health problem, but had become ‘weary of life’ from a study by the University of Bern found this week. More than 200 Brits have died at Swiss suicide clinics in the past decade.

In short, euthanasia asks questions that cannot be answered from the perspective of medicine alone. The inappropriateness between assisting voluntary death and the professional ethos of physicians may mean that physicians should not assist death, except it does not necessarily settle the argument of whether anyone ever should. Acceptance for palliative care seems to be growing, but support of assisted suicide is growing also, because end of life issues are kept in the public eye. Additional empirical analysis of this situation is important. Furthermore, this debate could continue to yield insights into the issues around suffering at the end of life.
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