Ethics of Physician-Assisted Suicide Name: Naila Zafar Student ID: 210945210 Course: HLST 4010 Date: April.4. 2014
Physician assisted suicide is a widely spread controversial ethical issue. This paper is written in an effort to highlight some important points discussing whether assisted suicide should be legalized or not under certain circumstances. Various ethical and social factors that play key role in prohibiting and permitting the legalization of assisted suicide will be discussed such as respecting autonomy and self determination of patients. Besides, role of physicians and medical profession in the end of life decision making process will also be discussed. Finally, I will shed light on struggle of policy makers to make just and fair legislations regarding end of life decisions without violating biomedical principles, patient’s rights and social norms. Physician assisted suicide an ethical dilemma:
Assisted suicide is the act of intentionally killing oneself with the assistance of physician who provides a patient with medical means and medical knowledge. Assisted suicide is slightly distinguished from withholding or withdrawing life- sustaining treatment where the patient or the patient’s proxy refuses the treatment based on its advantages and disadvantages. There are various views and arguments about the legalization of physician assisted suicide based on the physical situation and self determination of the patient. Several countries have adopted laws that allow physician assistance in dying with limitations (Heidi, 2013). A key situation in the jurisdictions that have allowed the assistance in suicide is that physicians are only allowed to provide assistance if patients voluntarily request for it and if medical treatment is of no help anymore. Each country has its own ethical and moral beliefs and regulations about involving physicians to help patients committing a suicide. However, in struggling with the issue of physician- assisted suicide, one must understand not only the patient’s rights and autonomy but also the situation and level of medical profession and individual physician (Latimer & McGregor, 1994). Various personal, legal and moral concerns need to be measured while making end of life decisions because assisting someone to kill themselves based on the belief of respecting person’s autonomy might not be appropriate for medical profession where physician is supposed to provide care to the patients in any circumstances. Therefore, law makers, health professionals and researchers face increasing pressure to solve this dilemma of should physicians participate in bringing the death of a terminally ill patient and whether these practices should be accepted by the society? Permitting Physician assisted suicide:
To begin with, I would discuss why physician assisted suicide should be legalized or supported by the society and by law. Supporters of assisted suicide believe that this act benefit terminally ill patients by relieving their suffering. This is probably one of the reasons why Netherlands court determined that a physician is allowed to prevent severe and irreversible suffering, even if it reduces patient’s life (Bosshard et al, 2002). The act of assisted suicide or active euthanasia is allowed in Netherlands, Switzerland and Oregon under different conditions and legislations. The situation can be seen differently in places, where by moral and legal discourse; assisted suicide is interpreted as the freedom or right of the individual as in Switzerland and some states of US. From the ethical perspective, patient’s choice of suicide represents an expression of self- determination and while...
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