Every human being has the power to make decisions throughout the course of his or her life. People make choices every day, and it is the control that people have over their own lives that allows them to do so. This ability to have options and be able to make decisions should not cease to exist as a patient approaches the end of life. People have the right to believe strongly in personal autonomy and have the determination to control the end of their lives as wished (DeSpelder 238).
Toward the end of life, people should still be given the chance to make decisions, in order to allow them some form of control in a life. The option for Physician Assisted Suicide allows for those, who are approaching death, to end their lives without losing any dignity.
Physician Assisted Suicide is when a physician intentionally assists a person in committing his or her own suicide by providing drugs for self administration at a voluntary and competent request (Oliver 2006). With Physician Assisted Suicide, the physician provides the patient with a prescription for a lethal dose of medication, and counseling on the doses and the methods the patient must follow through with to complete the act (Sanders 2007). The physician may be present while the patient self-administers the medication, although this is not legally required. Also, the physician, or any other person, cannot assist the patient in administering the medication (Darr 2007).
Physician Assisted Suicide should not be confused with Euthanasia. In the practice of Physician Assisted Suicide, it is the patient who makes the final administration of the lethal medication. As far as Euthanasia is concerned, it is a deliberate action done with the intention to hasten or cause the death of an individual (Sanders 2007). Physician Assisted Suicide is only legal in the state of Oregon, while Euthanasia is illegal across the United States.
Even though Euthanasia is illegal, it was performed casually by a physician by the name of Dr. Jack Kevorkian. Dr. Kevorkian would typically start an IV running saline, and allow the patient to then initiate the flow of barbituates and potassium chloride which would result in death (Darr 2007). After having assisted in the deaths of nearly 130 people over the course of ten years, Dr. Kevorkian was found guilty of having given a man a lethal injection which caused the man’s death, and Dr. Kevorkian was sentenced to prison. Although some may see Dr. Kevorkian’s work as wrong and immoral, others support him and his symbol as the public debate on ethical and legal issues surrounding Physician Assisted Suicide (DeSpelder 238).
There are many different types or forms of Euthanasia. These types of Euthanasia are: passive euthanasia, active euthanasia, active voluntary euthanasia, and active involuntary euthanasia. Passive euthanasia is the occurrence of a natural death through the discontinuation of life-support equipment or the cessation of life-sustaining medical procedures. Active euthanasia is a deliberate action to end the life of an individual. Voluntary active euthanasia is the intervention of lethal injection to end the life of a mentally competent, suffering individual who has requested to have his or her life put to an end. The last form of Euthanasia is active voluntary euthanasia in which a physician has intervened in such a way to cause the patient’s death, but without the consent from the patient (Scherer 13).
One may wish to experience Euthanasia to end his or her life for many reasons. Many patients wish for control and influence over the manner and timing of his or her own death. He or she may also wish to maintain his or her dignity and wish to have relief of severe pain that may be caused by a terminal illness. Other thoughts that may affect the choice for Euthanasia involve wanting to avoid the potential for abuse from his or her doctor, family, health care insurance, and society (Scherer vii). On the other hand, a patient may wish...
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