Justification of Assisted Suicide

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Is Assisted Suicide Ethically Justified?
Chriss N. Thomas
Philosophy of Ethics
Dr. John Schmitz
February 8, 2012

The choice a terminally ill patient makes should be available to them in the event they no longer want to suffer. According to Dame Jill Macleod Clark, who sits on the Council of Deans of Health, states “those who have cared for terminally ill patients, friends or family know their greatest fears and anxieties are about intractable sufferings, and their desire for a dignified and peaceful death” (2011). When patients who are terminally ill want to hear options the argument has been made that all options are not available because assisted suicide comes with scrutiny and consequences. On the other hand opponents of assisted suicide do not believe this is the only way to secure a good health alternative. Opponents believe that it is important to make a patient feel comfortable and help them improve their quality of life not end life just because it is an option or that they may feel they are a burden to loved ones. Assisted suicide can be performed by a physician or a person who is willing to help a patient end their life. This paper will focus on physician assisted suicide (PAS), this has been a controversial issue in many countries and have many different opinions on the ethics behind assisted suicide. To further examine the data the utilitarian ethics approach will be used. It is important to remember that utilitarian ethics considers the consequences of actions. Indentify the Problem: Assisted suicide is it ethical or unethical? Is it right for a physician to assist a patient to kill themselves? This is the main focus of assisted suicide and the justification of the situation has been at debate for a long time. The problem is if a physician assists a patient with suicide how are they holding up the oath they took as a doctor. Doctors are healers they are to help a person feel better, make them well, and give them treatment when necessary. “Physician-assisted suicide is fundamentally incompatible with the physician’s role as healer, would be difficult or impossible to control, and would pose serious societal risks. Instead of participating in assisted suicide, physicians must aggressively respond to the needs of patients at the end of life (Code of Medical Ethics, AMA (1994).” The opponents would say it is a physician’s duty to uphold what a patient may want, if the patient is terminally ill and in constant pain, why should they have to suffer? It is important for physicians to care for their patients and give them what they need to sustain a livable life. To what extent should a physician go to ensure the patient is happy and satisfied with their treatment? At some point a person will know someone who was in constant pain and wanted to end their life only to have to continue with treatment because the attending physician was obligated to do his job, what he went to school for, to ensure the welfare of their patient. The debate is still ongoing as to how assisted suicide would benefit a patient, the pro’s and con’s as well as the consequences of the actions. Clarify Concepts: What is Assisted Suicide?

Assisted suicide can be done by a physician or a person willing to help assist a patient in taking their life. What is Assisted Suicide? Assisted suicide is also known as euthanasia and is defined by dictionary.com as also called , the act of putting to death painlessly or allowing to die, as by withholding extreme medical measures, a person or animal suffering from an incurable, especially a painful, disease or condition (2012).

There are several different kinds of euthanasia, the first can be drugs prescribed by a doctor which is administered by the patient to end life. The second type of euthanasia is by machine, if the patient is on a machine to keep them alive they would request the machine be unhooked to end life. The third and highly debated form of assisted suicide is by physician. A...
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