Essay about Physician Assisted Suicide

Essay about Physician Assisted Suicide

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Physician Assisted Suicide


A poll in 1999 found that 52% of Americans though that Kevorkian should have been found guilty on some charge, while only 27% said that he was not guilty. The survey also found that 45% of Americans have a positive opinion of Kevorkian while 36% have an unfavorable one. After being informed that Kevorkian does not have a license to practice medicine and that he supports the right of doctors to help healthy patients die, his approval rating dropped to 19%, while his unfavorable rating rose to 57%.

Public support for physician assisted suicide was confined to the limited situation where a terminally ill patient would ask a doctor for help to commit suicide. Fifty four percent thought that doctors should be able to give a lethal dose to these patients. Thirty two percent said they shouldn’t. There is virtually no support for physician assisted suicide if the patient was not terminally ill. Only 11% said that doctors should give a lethal dose to non terminal patients who feel they are a burden to their family. Only 7% said that doctors should be legally allowed to prescribe lethal doses to healthy patients who want to commit suicide. Even more significant is the finding that the vast majority want doctors to reduce the number of suicides, not increase them. The number of Americans that thought that doctors had a “moral obligation” to try to talk the patient out of committing suicide was a surprising 81%.

The reactions of the guilty verdict in Kevorkian’s case varied. Many agreed with the verdict but there were also some staunch opposes who continued to back Kevorkian and his actions. This is what people had to say about the issue:

“This grotesque verdict in Michigan will only serve to drive the widespread practices of voluntary euthanasia further underground…Dr. Kevorkian may be a flawed messiah, but he is on the right track.” Derek HUmphry, co-founder of the Hemlock society.

“Patients in America can be relieved that the guilty verdict against Jack Kevorkian helps protect them from those who would take their live prematurely.” American Medical Association

“This is not some angel of mercy that we’re dealing with here…But when the body bags are tallied, Kevorkian is revealed for what he is: a romanticized version of Ted Bundy, stacking corpses like cordwood and proud of it.” Pete Waldmeir, Detroit News

“He’s a ma...


... middle of paper ...


...edical community, legal scholars and those who have the most at stake – the terminally ill. And it was personified through the exploits of retired Michigan pathologist Jack Kevorkian, who claims he has helped more than 45 people kill themselves. Advocates on both sides of the issue predicted a path ahead laden with more controversy and debate.

"The clarity of these decisions should serve as a benchmark for other courts," said Mark Chopko, general counsel for the U.S. Catholic Conference, one of the organizations that has led the fight against assisted suicide. But he added, "the debate over the legalization of assisted suicide will continue in the political process."



“Assisted Suicide Laws State by State,” 2004. http://www.euthanasia.com/bystate.html & "USA Articles,” 2004. http://www.euthanasia.com/page6.html

Biskupic, Joan. “Unanimous Decision Points to Tradition of Valuing Life.” Washington Post Company, 1997.

“IAETF Update,” International Task Force on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide, 13.1 (Jan-March 1999).

Robinson, Bruce. "Physician Assisted Suicide: Activity in Oregon," Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance. 1997, updated 2004.

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