Ethical Issues With Physician Assisted Suicide

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The ethical issues of physician-assisted suicide are both emotional and controversial, as it struggles with the issue of life and death. If you take a moment and imagine how you would choose to live your last day, it is almost guaranteed that it wouldn’t be a day spent lying in a hospital bed, suffering in pain, continuously being pumped with medicine, and living in a strangers’ body. Today we live in a culture that denies the terminally ill the right to maintain control over when and how to end their lives. Physicians-assisted suicide “is the voluntary termination of one's own life by the administration of a lethal substance with the direct or indirect assistance of a physician” (Medical Definition of Physician-Assisted Suicide, 2017). Physician-assisted…show more content…
As a result, life-sustaining procedures such as ventilators, feeding tubes, and treatments for infectious and terminal diseases are developing. While these life-sustaining methods have positively influenced modern medicine, they also inadvertently cause terminal patients extensive pain and suffering. Previous to the development of life-sustaining procedures, many people died in the care of their own home, however, today the majority of Americans take their last breath lying in a hospital bed. As the advancement of modern medicine continues, physicians and patients are going to encounter life-altering trials and tribulations. Arguably, the most controversial debate in modern medicine is the discussion of the ethical choice for physician-assisted suicide.
The discussion of physician-assisted suicide is frequently focused around the ethical implications. The confusion commonly surfaces from the simple question, what is physician-assisted suicide? Physician-assisted suicide can be defined as a circumstance in which a medical physician provides a lethal dose of medication to a patient with a fatal illness. In this case, the patient has given consent, as well as direction, to the physician to ethically aid in their death (Introduction to Physician-Assisted Suicide: At Issue,
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Euthanasia is divided into two separate classifications consisting of passive euthanasia and active euthanasia. Traditionally, “euthanasia is passive when a physician allows her patient to die, by withholding or withdrawing vital treatment from him…euthanasia is active when a patient's death results from his physician's killing the patient, typically by administering lethal medication” (Varelius, 2016). While active euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide share many of the same characteristics, they differ in the role for committing the final act, resulting in the death of the patient. A third party, consisting of either a family member or the physician, is responsible for “pulling-the-plug” in active euthanasia. On the other hand, in physician-assisted suicide, it is ultimately up to the patient to commit the final death-inducing act. Varelius suggests that the separation of passive and active euthanasia can be explained by the involvement that the physician partakes in their patients’ death

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