The Issue Of Physician Assisted Suicide Essay

The Issue Of Physician Assisted Suicide Essay

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In the documentary, Bill Moyers talks to three terminally ill patients, their families, and their doctors about the concerns with physician-assisted suicide (PAS). PAS allows a terminally ill patient to hasten an inevitable and unavoidable death through a lethal dose. The patients considered PAS in order to end their prolonged suffering. The legal role of advance directives in end of life issues allows a patient to specify how he wishes to be treated by a healthcare provider during a progressively weakened state. Advance directives may provide patients with freedom to choose end of life treatment, but moral and religious implications, the ethical battle between a physician’s duty to care and inner-conscious, and state laws pose threats to PAS.
Advance directives intend to provide adults with the opportunity to express their desires about medical treatment before becoming debilitated. Personally, the freedom to choose one’s own destiny through advance directives directly aligns with the constitutional value of liberty. It permits an individual to be in charge of his own life and to fulfill his primary desires regarding death. For Jim Witcher, Lou-Gehrig’s disease progressively paralyzed his limbs and interfered with his daily activities and ability to self-care. Although Jim was a strong-willed fighter, the disease was winning. He states, “I want every day that I can get. You know, it’s when you reach that point where, um it’s no longer bearable, and I don’t know what that will be. Then I want to be able to make that decision” (On Our Own Terms). Jim wants to die with dignity as evident in his intention to hasten his death after a certain stage. Generally, dying patients want autonomy in their end of life treatment. The role of a...


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...lues. In effect, patients have more liberty to choose end of life treatment, and physicians can follow their conscious. Additionally, many people have a negative connotation of PAS as an act of “killing.” Campaigns, educational workshops, and publicity are crucial to decrease this negative perception. Teaching end of life treatment in schools will benefit students to understand why PAS would be a viable option.
Lastly, I believe PAS involves the patients as well as his family and support network. Without emotional and financial support for PAS, the patient may be left with immense suffering instead. Multiple counseling sessions with social workers and psychologists are necessary for a patient’s family and support network to deem PAS as the best route. Although, patients have ultimate power over treatment, additional support will make the process more approachable.

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