Assisted Suicide

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  • Topic: Death, Suicide, Voluntary euthanasia
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  • Published : March 3, 2013
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Physician Assisted Suicide Paper

Physician-Assisted suicide is opposed by the AMA and all US states except Oregon. It is a moral and ethical dilemma that physicians, ethicists, and others face (Hosseini 2012).Three main things will be argued for not allowing PAS, religion and society see any form of suicide as a sin, physicians would violate the Hippocratic Oath, and families would lose their loved one earlier then expected.

What doctors consider to be "letting the patient die," for instance would be taking both conscious and unconscious patients off of life support and not reviving the patient in case of a heart failure, et cetera. There is also assisted suicide. Dr. Jack Kevorkian of Michigan and his suicide machine have made themselves known through this technique (Hosseini 2012). The machine injects a lethal dosage into the "patients" blood stream, killing then painlessly within ten minutes. This would fall into the “active voluntary euthanasia." This is where a conscious, mentally competent person, usually with a severe physical ailment, loses the will to live. Many have said that keeping them alive is just prolonging their death and is cruel to the patient. Patients may ask that life support equipment be disconnected so that they can die quickly, painlessly, and with a sense of dignity. Most doctors on the other hand are trained to try their best to defy death and or at least try to delay it as long as possible and follow the oath that they stated, “I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody if asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to that effect” (Hosseini 2012).

Dr. Jack Kevorkian and his suicide machine have become famous for his contribution to this type of PAS. His first case involved a Janet Adkins of OR, she found out that she was suffering from Alzheimer's disease. She had seen the doctor in Newsweek magazine, and contacted him. He drove towards her with the suicide device, and on June fourth, 1990, they drove to a local park in Michigan. The machine had three bottles of liquid hanging upside down inside a frame. One had a harmless saline solution in it; the next had a chemical that causes unconsciousness; the third had potassium chloride, a compound that stops the heart. Kevorkian hooked Adkins up to a tube similar to that on an I.V. She died in less than six minutes. Dr. Kevorkian was barred from using the suicide machine again, but four months later he assisted in the “murder” of two more women (Daniels 1992).

The question is, though, should euthanasia be legalized and is it even ethical? It is not ethical, and in almost all cases, it is murder. In the Netherlands, it is already performed widely and openly. In November of 1991, voters in Washington State had a chance to decide whether or not they wanted to legalize euthanasia, it was called "dying with dignity." It was voted in to legalize it under the following conditions: the patient would have to be mentally competent, two doctors would have to agree that the patient had less than six months to live, and the patient would be required to ask for euthanasia in writing (Iwasaki 2009).

Giving assistance in suicide remains a crime, except in the Netherlands in recent times under certain conditions, and it has never been a crime in Switzerland, Germany, Norway and Uruguay. The rest of the world punishes assistance in suicide for both the mentally ill and the terminally ill, although the state of Oregon recently (Nov. l994) passed by ballot Measure 16 a limited physician-assisted suicide law, this is held up in the law courts.

How then does a physician ever have a conversation about ending the life of their patient? The treating physician has been informed, asked to be involved, and his or her response been taken into account. What the physician's response will be depends on the circumstances, of course, but we advise people that as rational suicide is not a crime, there is nothing a doctor can do about it. But it is best to...
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