The Ethics of Physician Assisted Death Essay

The Ethics of Physician Assisted Death Essay

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In 5th century BCE, a Greek philosopher named Hippocrates wrote the phrase “I will not give a drug that is deadly to anyone if asked [for it], nor will suggest the ways to such a counsel”(Miles, 2004). This passage is apart of a written document that is now known as the Hippocratic Oath (Appendix A). The philosophers of ancient Greece were aware of the medical predicaments that a physician would ultimately face while practicing medicine. Today, the oath has become an ethical code for the physicians to uphold and apply in their profession. Why is this phrase important enough to be included in this document? Some view this passage as the code that prohibits physicians from lending their abilities for the executions of prisoners. Others believe that his passage was written to prevent physicians from using their knowledge for murders. However, I believe that this passage was included into the oath in order to refrain the physicians from using their “techné” for the purpose of physician-assisted suicide. Physician- assisted suicide or euthanasia is not a novel idea in today’s society. Thus, it was not a coincident that Hippocrates imperatively specified this issue in his oath. The respect for the human life is clearly delineated by the oath yet some physicians still assist patients in ending their lives today. Is assisting someone in ending his or her own life unethical and against the Hippocratic Oath? Consequently, I have to address this baffling issue and attempt to answer this crucial question.
Euthanasia is a Greek word meaning a “good death” (Schiavo, 2011). This word is usually referred to the manner of ending an individual’s life in relief of pain and suffering. Although some people may disagree, euthanasia and physician-assi...


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... myself and use my knowledge in a godly manner.
I will not cut for the stone, but will commit that affair entirely to the surgeons.
Whatsoever house I may enter, my visit shall be for the convenience and advantage of the patient; and I will willingly refrain from doing any injury or wrong from falsehood, and (in an especial manner) from acts of an amorous nature, whatever may be the rank of those who it may be my duty to cure, whether mistress or servant, bond or free.
Whatever, in the course of my practice, I may see or hear (even when not invited), whatever I may happen to obtain knowledge of, if it be not proper to repeat it, I will keep sacred and secret within my own breast.
If I faithfully observe this oath, may I thrive and prosper in my fortune and profession, and live in the estimation of posterity; or on breach thereof, may the reverse be my fate![4]

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