The Debate on Whether Assisted Suicide is Ethical or Immoral

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The Debate on Whether Assisted Suicide is Ethical or Immoral Assisted Suicide, also known as mercy killing, occurs when a physician provides the means (drugs or other agents) by which a person can take his or her own life. This assistance is one of the most debated issues today in society followed by abortion. Physicians are frequently faced with the question of whether or not assisted suicide is ethical or immoral. Although assisted suicide is currently illegal in almost all states in America, it is still often committed. Is assisted suicide ethical? Studies have found that the majority of Americans support assisted suicide. One must weigh both sides of the argument before they can decide. On July 26, 1997, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously upheld decisions in New York and Washington State that criminalized assisted suicide. These decisions overturned rulings in the 2nd and 9th Circuit Courts of Appeal, which struck down state statutes banning physician-assisted suicide. Those courts had found that the statutes, which prohibited doctors from prescribing lethal medication to competent, terminally ill adults, violated the 14th Amendment. In striking the appellate decisions, the U.S. Supreme Court found that there was no constitutional "right to die," but left it to individual states to enact legislation permitting or prohibiting physician-assisted suicide. As of April 1999, physician-assisted suicide is illegal in the majority of states. Over thirty states have enacted statutes prohibiting assisted suicide, and of those that do not have statutes, a number of them arguably prohibit it through common law. Currently, Oregon is the only state that has legalized assisted suicide. The Oregon statute, which came into e... ... middle of paper ... ... a crime with the risk of the loss of license or even imprisonment. The only sure way that people will stop suffering and be allowed to die peacefully because of their own decision is if assisted suicide becomes legal in the United States. Bibliography: The New England Journal of Medicine -- February 1, 1996 -- Vol. 334, No. 5 Attitudes of Michigan Physicians and the Public toward Legalizing Physician-Assisted Suicide and Voluntary Euthanasia By Jerald G. Bachman, Kirsten H. Alcser, David J. Doukas, Richard L. Lichtenstein, Amy D. Corning, Howard Brody Annals of Internal Medicine--21 March 2000 Volume 132 Number 6 Palliative Treatments of Last Resort: Choosing the Least Harmful Alternative Timothy E. Quill, MD; Barbara Coombs Lee, FNP, JD; Sally Nunn, RN, for the University of Pennsylvania Center for Bioethics Assisted Suicide Consensus Panel

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