Physician-Assisted Suicide as It Applies to Current U.S. Policy

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Physician-Assisted Suicide as It Applies to Current U.S. Policy
1.1 Definition of the Problem
As people in the United States assume more active roles in their personal healthcare and the healthcare policies of the country, debates concerning individual autonomy in healthcare begin to emerge. Among these debates is one contemplating the legality of physician-assisted suicide. The United States federal government has deemed this medical procedure an act of homicide, but some states have instated certain policies allowing the procedure. Due to the contending federal and state policies, the populace is left to ask if the current federal prohibitions are justified and applicable to United States healthcare policy. Therefore, we must reconsider the current and established policies regarding physician-assisted suicide to determine the policies’ viability.
In analyzing various proposals for and against physician-assisted suicide and previous court cases, it is found that individual autonomy and individual liberties in taking one’s own life do not provide justification for a physician to assist in inducing a patient’s suicide (Varelius 236). Furthermore, it is the physician’s duty to assure the best quality of life for a patient, and it is not their duty to help a patient in judging that quality of life. Given this, a physician would be breaching his or her duty of care in assisting a patient’s suicide and may not be able to consider various other elements that would cause a patient to desire death; such as, mental distress, thinking that they may be a burden to others, and so forth.
Alternatively, one will find self-determination a precedent in U.S. healthcare policy, and one must question why such self-determination would end at ph...

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