Physician Assisted Suicide Essay

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The Ethical Dilemma of Physician Assisted Suicide

There is great debate in this country and worldwide over whether or not terminally ill patients who are experiencing great suffering should have the right to choose death. A deep divide amongst the American public exists on the issue. It is extremely important to reach an ethical decision on whether or not terminally ill patients have this right to choose death, since many may be needlessly suffering, if an ethical solution exists.

Clarify Concepts

Physician assisted suicide - the ending of a terminally ill patient’s life with the assistance of a physician who will normally supply a drug for the patient to take.

Euthanasia – the ending of a terminally ill patient’s life by a third party, normally a physician, to end the pain and suffering of the patient.

Palliative care - treatment that helps to comfort patients, while slowing the progress of a disease.

Identify Possible Solutions to the Problem

There exists two possible solutions to the ethical dilemma of a terminally ill patient’s right to die: they are the legalization of physician assisted suicide and the banning of it. This paper will explore whether the legalization of PAS should be the recommended course of action or whether there are sufficient negative issues surrounding it to make the banning of it, the correct ethical choice.

Assumptions and Points of View

Legalize physician assisted suicide - Those that believe that physician assisted suicide should be legal primarily argue on the basis of patient autonomy and family considerations. The first argument, patient autonomy, states that terminally ill patients should have the right to control the circumstances of their death and to determine when t...

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... were to be legalized, there would likely be many protests by religious groups and others who believe that any kind of killing is wrong. Many religions feel that only God should decide when and how a person is to die, so would likely take great offense to its legalization.

Another consequence would be felt by the insurance companies. It is much cheaper to pay for the drugs that would be used to end the life of a terminally ill patient than it would be to continue to pay for ongoing treatments. This would result in an improved financial situation for most insurance companies.

The most important consequences would be felt by the patients and their family members, who would likely experience less grief. In most cases, the consequences should be positive, which helps make the legalization of physician assisted suicide the correct ethical choice.
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