Diane: A Case of Physician Assisted Suicide
Diane was a patient of Dr. Timothy Quill, who was diagnosed with acute myelomonocytic leukemia. Diane overcame alcoholism and had vaginal cancer in her youth. She had been under his care for a period of 8 years, during which an intimate doctor-patient bond had been established. It was Dr. Quill’s observation that “she was an incredibly clear, at times brutally honest, thinker and communicator.” This observation became especially cogent after Diane heard of her diagnosis. Dr. Quill informed her of the diagnosis, and of the possible treatments. This series of treatments entailed multiple chemotherapy sessions, followed by a bone marrow transplant, accompanied by an array of ancillary treatments. At the end of this series of treatments, the survival rate was 25%, and it was further complicated in Diane’s case by the absence of a closely matched bone-marrow donor. Diane chose not to receive treatment, desiring to spend whatever time she had left outside of the hospital. Dr. Quill met with her several times to ensure that she didn’t change her mind, and he had Diane meet with a psychologist with whom she had met before. Then Diane complicated the case by informing Dr. Quill that she be able to control the time of her death, avoiding the loss of dignity and discomfort which would precede her death. Dr. Quinn informed her of the Hemlock Society, and shortly afterwards, Diane called Dr. Quinn with a request for barbiturates, complaining of insomnia. Dr. Quinn gave her the prescription and informed her how to use them to sleep, and the amount necessary to commit suicide. Diane called all of her friends to say goodbye, including Dr. Quinn, and took her life two days after they met.
This is a fascinating case because it presents the distinction between a patient’s right to refuse treatment and a physician’s assistance with suicide. Legally, Diane possessed the right to refuse treatment, but she would have faced a debilitating, painful death, so the issue of treatment would be a moot point. It would be moot in the sense that Diane seemed to refuse treatment because the odds were low, even if she survived she would spend significant periods of time in the hospital and in pain, and if she didn’t survive she would spend her last days in the hospital. If Diane were to merely refuse treatment and nothing else (as the law prescribes) than she would not have been able to avoid the death which she so dearly wanted to avoid.
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There are many legal and ethical issues when discussing the topic of physician-assisted suicide (PAS). The legal issues are those regarding numerous court cases over the past few decades, the debate over how the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution comes into play, and the legalization vs. illegalization of this practice. The 14th Amendment states, “nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws” (U.S. Const. amend. XIV, §1). PAS in the past has been upheld as illegal due to the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th amendment of the constitution, but in recent years this same 14th amendment is also part of the reasoning for legalizing PAS, “nor shall any State deprive any person of…liberty” (U.S. Const. amend. XIV, §1). The ethical issues surrounding this topic include a patient’s autonomy and dignity and if PAS should be legalized everywhere. This paper is an analysis of the PAS debate and explores these different issues using a specific case that went to the supreme courts called Washington et al. v. Glucksberg et al.
Imagine, if you will, that you have just found out you have a terminal medical condition. Doesn’t matter which one, it’s terminal. Over the 6 months you have to live you experience unmeasurable amounts of pain, and when your free of your pain the medication you’re under renders you in an impaired sense of consciousness. Towards the 4th month, you begin to believe all this suffering is pointless, you are to die anyways, why not with a little dignity. You begin to consider Physician-Assisted Suicide (PAS). In this essay I will explain the ethical decisions and dilemmas one may face when deciding to accept the idea of Physician-Assisted Suicide. I will also provide factual information pertaining to the subject of PAS and testimony from some that advocate for legalization of PAS. PAS is not to be taken lightly. It is the decision to end one’s life with the aid of a medical physician. Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary states that PAS is “Suicide by a patient facilitated by means (as a drug prescription) or by information (as an indication of a lethal dosage) provided by a physician aware of the patient’s intent.” PAS is considered, by our textbook – Doing Ethics by Lewis Vaughn, an active voluntary form of euthanasia. There are other forms of euthanasia such as non-voluntary, involuntary, and passive. This essay is focusing on PAS, an active voluntary form of euthanasia. PAS is commonly known as “Dying/Death with Dignity.” The most recent publicized case of PAS is the case of Brittany Maynard. She was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer in California, where she lived. At the time California didn’t have Legislative right to allow Brittany the right to commit PAS so she was transported to Oregon where PAS is legal....
There are many ethical issues that arise in the Karen Ann Quinlan case. First, there is the ethical right that each person has to receive or refuse medical treatment. But this can ethically problematic because some would see death as an intrinsic evil; therefore choosing death would be unethical. This, however, can be categorized as part of the larger issue of patient autonomy, the patient's right to live and abide by their own personal choices (Garrett 29). Recent thought has affirmed the idea of patient autonomy in medicine, now making it a central dogma of the American medical practice. In this case, patient autonomy is threatened because the patient is not able to communicate their desires for treatment. The physician cannot ask, and therefore cannot know, if the patient would want to continue treatment or withdraw treatment. In this case, the Karen was deemed incompetent...
Physician assisted suicide (PAS) is a very important issue. It is also important tounderstand the terms and distinction between the varying degrees to which a person can be involved in hastening the death of a terminally ill individual. Euthanasia, a word that is often associated with physician assisted suicide, means the act or practice of killing for reasons of mercy. Assisted suicide takes place when a dying person who wishes to precipitate death, requests help in carrying out the act. In euthanasia, the dying patients may or may not be aware of what is happening to them and may or may not have requested to die. In an assisted suicide, the terminally ill person wants to die and has specifically asked for help. Physician-assisted suicide occurs when the individual assisting in the suicide is a doctor rather than a friend or family member. Because doctors are the people most familiar with their patients’ medical condition and have knowledge of and access to the necessary means to cause certain death, terminally ill patients who have made
When Steven learns about Jeffery’s diagnosis he is shocked. He thought it was a mistake. Steven starts to go downhill in his schoolwork and suddenly becomes very closed off. Steven’s mother starts crying when she has to tell the news, but she stays strong. She takes Jeffrey to Philadelphia every week and tries to stay on top of everything. Steven’s father just gives a completely blank when he hears about the diagnosis. He barely talks or makes no sign of a facial expression.
A man sits in a hospital waiting room, anticipating the test results that are about to come. While sitting there he over hears a doctor tell a young lady her diagnosis. She is a woman of her late twenties with a husband and family by her side and she has just been diagnosed with a terminal illness. This is a tragedy that no one ever sees coming. Would this woman want to die rather than deal with the pain or maybe she will stay strong and suffer through it all, for her kids and for her family. However, perhaps there is one option that she does not have that maybe she should; any victim of a terminal illness should also have the option to end his or her life through the means of legal euthanasia.
"With the stroke of a pen, California Gov. Jerry Brown made it legal for physicians in the state to prescribe lethal doses of medications if their terminally ill patients wish to end their lives. Brown signed the "End of Life Act" into law on Monday, and in doing so California joins four other states — Oregon, Washington, Vermont and Montana — where patients' right to choose doctor-assisted death is protected either by law or court order."
Christina Robbins awakens screaming as she clinches the railing of her hospital bed while excruciating pain radiates through her weakened body. Christina’s husband and two teenage daughters sit on the couch in the corner of her dimmed hospital room. In just three months, Christina went from a completely healthy lawyer to lying in her deathbed needing 24 hour care. The cancer has now spread from her lungs throughout her body and within days would reach her brain. The doctors have tried to keep Christina’s pain under control, but with all the medicine the slightest touch feels like razor blades scraping her skin. Being a terminal patient is rather difficult to come to terms with, leaving unpaid bills behind, losing bodily control, and having family watch them die a slow painful death. Incidentally Christiana does not live in one of the four states that offer Physician Assisted Suicide. Physician Assisted Suicide should be legalized in all states because it is a freedom of choice, ceases one’s pain and suffering and decreases traditional suicide rates.
Pain is universal. In life, everyone will feel pain; it is inevitable and cruel. Physical or emotional, insignificant or severe, it is there. The pain continues mounting into an unbearable amount of suffering. Suffering that blots out everything of worth, such as family, love, aspirations, and optimism. Hopelessness seizes any will to endure. With no way to subside or control the pain, often one will go to extremes in order to be free of it. Many take their life, in order to escape the horror. Committing suicide is a traumatizing experience for any and all involved. Life is precious. The chance to live is only given once, and cannot be taken for granted. Preventing even a single life from ending early is imperative and obligatory to everyone. Suicide can never be an option. Why then is it acceptable as an alternative treatment for dire medical conditions? Physician-Assisted Suicides have a negative impact on those involved and is unethical.
Physician assisted suicide Physician assisted suicide, a suicide made possible by a physician providing a patient with the means to kill themselves, and euthanasia, the kindness of taking individual life by the physician, is an extremely debatable topic. Nonetheless, I am certain that there are some basic agreements that argue both for and against Physician assisted suicide and euthanasia, and when they are evaluated against each other there is a much solider case for prohibiting the Physician assisted suicide than for legalizing them. To begin, though, it is important to point out that prohibiting the practice in our society requires greater effort and argument than letting one.
As recently the New Mexico judge allowed the physician to aid the dying of the patients that has the terminally illness, the state of New Mexico will potentially become the 5th state in the United States after Oregon, Washington, Montana and Vermont. This issue soon become the most eye-catching issues recently and brought up the debate of such issue along with the medical ethics, religions and human rights that was already goes along for decades, and this article will contain the argument that why should the physician-assisted suicide along with its’ legitimate and voluntarily practice should be justified from the perspective of the autonomy of the patients and it’s incununous to the society under current circumstances.
disease that Stephen Hawking has) 5 years ago. This is a condition that destroys motor nerves, making control of movement impossible, while the mind is virtually unaffected. People with motor neurone disease normally die within 4 years of diagnosis from suffocation due to the inability of the inspiratory muscles to contract. The woman's condition has steadily declined. She is not expected to live through the month, and is worried about the pain that she will face in her final hours. She asks her doctor to give her diamorphine for pain if she begins to suffocate or choke. This will lessen her pain, but it will also hasten her death. About a week later, she falls very ill, and is having trouble breathing.