My dream has always been to help people and I have wanted to fulfill that by becoming a physician. However, when I imagine this future, I think of the possibility of surgeries, consultations, and diagnoses but I never considered a huge moral challenge experienced by those in the health care industry – physician assisted suicide (PAS). Having the word suicide in the name immediately gives it a negative connotation and when you first say it to yourself you probably consider it to be another form of murder. Most people could never consider performing it but if you had a patient who was in so much pain and had no chance of survival that by letting them die would relieve them of that, you probably would want to figure out a way to help. For the rest of the paper, I will be talking about PAS from a pro-PAS opinion while questioning those who are against it and their arguments for it.
First, euthanasia is the act of ending someone’s life to relieve his or her suffering. It can be active or passive, where active is that a person is actively terminating someone’s life and passive is an act of omitting a procedure or treatment that will lead to the person’s death (Levy, Azar, Huberfeld, Siegel & Strous, 2013). Euthanasia can also either be voluntary, where a patient requests someone to end their life, or involuntary where the patient’s healthcare provider or family members make the decision without a patient’s request because the patient may not have the capacity to request it.
PAS is a subset of euthanasia that occurs when a doctor of a patient engages in an activity, which directly or indirectly leads to their death (Levy et al., 2013). The doctor does this because of their humanistic desire to end the suffering of their patient. Althou...
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...sician-Assisted Suicide compatible with good end-of-life care. Journal of Applied Philosophy, 26, 27-45.
Levy, T. B., Azar, S., Huberfeld, R., Siegel, A. M. & Strous, R. D. (2013). Attitudes towards euthanasia and assisted suicide: A comparison between psychiatrists and other physicians. Bioethics, 27, 402–408.
Meier, D.E., Emmons, C., Wallenstein, S., Quill, T., Morrison, R.S., & Cassel, C.K. (1998). A national survey of physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia in the United States. The New England Journal of Medicine, 338, 1193-1201.
ProCon.org. (2014). State-by-State Guide to Physician-Assisted Suicide. Retrieved from http://euthanasia.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=000132
Wittwer, H. (2013). The problem of the possible rationality of suicide and the ethics of physician-assisted suicide. International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, 36, 419-426.
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