Physician Assisted Suicide

2316 Words5 Pages
One of the most controversial end-of-life decisions is “physician-assisted suicide” (PAS). This method of suicide involves a physician providing a patient, at his or her own request, with a lethal dose of medication, which the patient self-administers. The ethical acceptability and the desirability of legalization of this practice both continue to cause controversy (Raus, Sterckx, Mortier 1). Vaco v. Quill and Washington v. Glucksberg were landmark decisions on the issue of physician-assisted suicide and a supposed Constitutional right to commit suicide with another's assistance. In Washingotn v. Glucksberg, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the state of Washington's ban on physician-assisted suicide was not unconstitutional. Justices noted that while terminally ill patients on life support have legal right to refuse all treatment, terminally ill patients who are not on life support lack this right. Although the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a ban on physician-assisted suicide was not unconstitutional, individual states were free to enact laws permitting physician-assisted suicide. Not long after this ruling, Oregon passed adopted the Death with Dignity Act (DWDA) permitting physician-assisted suicide under certain conditions (State of Oregon 1995). More recently, Oregon's neighbor state Washington also enacted a law allowing physician-assisted suicide – the Washington Death with Dignity Act (State of Washington 2008) (Raus, Sterckx, Mortier 2). Certain European countries, such as the Netherlands and Luxembourg have laws legalizing physician-assisted suicide, as well as euthanasia. Belgium also has legalized euthanasia, but has not explicitly legalized physician-assisted suicide. The Swiss penal code prohibits killing on ... ... middle of paper ... It can also be said that, in general, people with moderate or strong religious beliefs are less likely to be in favor of self-determination at the end of life (Rerup, Onquteaka-Philipsen, van der Wal, Heide, van der Maas 531). As one can see, physician-assisted suicide has a long and complicated history. Recent developments in the United States have brought the issues associated with end-of-life decisions under the microscope. The morality and ethics associated with voluntarily assisting someone while committing suicide have struck a chord with individuals, organizations, and in the political and medicinal sectors. The Hippocratic Oath and Pharmaceutical Oath have become subject to scrutiny with the gaining popularity and legalization of terminally ill patients seeking dignity in death. Increasingly, people are supporting the tough decisions made by patients.

More about Physician Assisted Suicide

Open Document