Physician-Assisted Suicide: Different Ethics Perspectives Term Paper

September 21, 2021 by Essay Writer

Current Legal Status

Nowadays, personal debates governmental discussions about physician-assisted suicide are complex and continuous (Kopelman and De Ville 1). People cannot come to the same conclusion and decide if it is ethically correct to provide physicians with the right to end someone’s life. Therefore, the current legal state of affairs is not definite: only 3 states (Oregon, Vermont, and Washington) legalized the idea via legislation, and one state, Montana, legalized it via court ruling (“State-by-State Guide” par. 1).

The situation in the other 46 states differs as well because only 39 states introduced the laws that prohibited this kind of suicide legally and defined this decision as such types of crime like different degrees of manslaughter, felony, or the crime that required financial punishment. 4 states (Nevada, North Carolina, Utah, and Wyoming) do not have any specific statutes and laws that can directly prohibit or support the idea of physician-assisted suicide, and 3 states use common law as the means to prohibit physician-assisted suicide.

For example, Oregon is the first state that has legalized physician-assisted suicide, signing the Death with Dignity Act (“Physician-Assisted Suicide Fast Facts” par. 8). The case of Gonzales vs. the State of Oregon was the beginning during which it was proved that licensed doctors had the right to prescribe drugs for use in physician-assisted suicide to the patients that had a terminal sickness and less than six months to live (“State-by-State Guide” par. 6).

Another example is taken from Massachusetts, where physician-assisted suicide is defined as the first/second-degree murder. However, the citizens promoted the “Death with Dignity” initiative to allow this kind of suicide for a number of definite conditions since 2012.

Different Perspectives on the Ethical Issue

Different people may have different attitudes to the same problem. The question of how to end someone’s life is not easy, and many researchers from different parts of the world have been trying to give their well-grounded answers. For example, the Swiss investigator Nicola Biller-Adorno with her college Pfister underlines that the role of any physician is not only to preserve human life but also to decrease the level of suffering and promote the required comfort to the patients, who are dying.

There may be situations when patients ask or even beg their physicians to relieve them by means of physician-assisted suicide. Physicians face a significant dilemma in their professional life. However, they have to weigh all the pros and cons, use their knowledge, and consider their licenses to be sure that their agreement to physician-assisted suicide has a number of grounds.

Biller-Adorno supports physician-assisted suicide and uses research of the Swiss Academy of Medical Sciences as proof that people are ready to accept this possibility on a legal basis (Pfister and Biller-Adorno 284).

The opposite point of view is offered by Donald Boudreau, who poses one simple, still rather interesting question: if there is anyone who can teach students how to end their patients’ live in the best possible way (79). Though there are many ethical and social approaches on how to treat this concept (Baillie et al. 146), not many people are ready to take responsibility for ending someone’s life.

The role of physicians is to heal. Being involved in physician-assisted suicide means contradicting the fundamentals of medicine and the doctor’s role. Patients should never lose hope to be healed. As soon as they agree with physician-assisted suicide, they put the essence of human life under the question.

Works Cited

Baillie, Harold, W., McGeehan, John, Garrett, Thomas, M., and Rosellen M. Garrett. Health Care Ethics. Boston, MA: Pearson, 2013. Print.

Boudreau, Donald. “Physician-Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia: Can You Even Imagine Teaching Medical Students how to End Their Patients’ Lives?” The Permanente Journal 15.4 (2011): 79-84.

Kopelman, Loretta, M. and Kenneth A. De Ville. “The Contemporary Debate over Physician-Assisted Suicide.” Physician-Assisted Suicide: What Are the Issues? Ed. Loretta, M. Kopelman and Kenneth A. De Ville. Boston, MA: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2012. Print.

Pfister, Eliane and Nicola Biller-Adorno. “Physical-Assisted Suicide: Views of Swiss Health Care Professionals.” Journal of Bioethical Inquiry 7.3 (2010): 283-285.

Physician-Assisted Suicide Fast Facts.” CNN 2015. Web.

State-by-State Guide to Physician-Assisted Suicide 2015. Web.

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