Introduction to Ethics & Social Responsibility - SOC 120
Physician Assisted Suicide
Prof. Harold Engle
September 2, 2011
Physician Assisted Suicide p. 2
Physician assisted suicide is a choice that reminds me of the game show “what would you do”. When your so terminally sick and your quality of life is nothing anymore, what does a person do. Anymore there are very few options on how to handle terminal illnesses. You can wait it out and risk all the pain that may or may not come, or you can explore more in depth options with your physician. As a terminally ill patient and hoping to have fulfilled your bucket list, your options are minimal and can have a greater effect on the ones we love.
Only one state and one country has passed an act that may be helpful to those who have a terminal illness. Physician assisted suicide, now more commonly known as physician aid-in-dying or PAD is an available option for those terminally ill patients. Physician aid-in-dying refers to a practice in which a physician provides a competent, terminally ill patient with a prescription for a lethal dose of medication, upon the patients request, which the patient intends to use to end his or her own life (Braddock, Starks, Dudzinski, & White 2010). Although it is voluntary and once a person is given the medication it is entirely up to them to decide to take it. Between 1997 and 2001, 141 lethal prescriptions were issued according to Oregon state records but only 91 of those patients actually used their prescriptions to end their life (Singer, 2003).
This term that was once and most commonly known as physician assisted suicide, has created a lot of controversy. It was a term that when used by people was felt as an accurate reflection of the relationship between doctor/patient and refer to the etymological roots of suicide as “auto killing” or “self killing” (Braddock, Starks, Dudzinski, & White, 2010). The term physician aid-in-dying is used to describe the practice that is authorized in Physician Assisted Suicide p. 3
certain states and under certain laws passed for this particular reason and is also meant to reflect the requirement that eligible persons must be decisionally competent and have a limited life expectancy of six months or less (Braddock, et al.).
There are two types of physician assisted suicide, also known as euthanasia. There are both voluntary and involuntary. Voluntary is physician assisted suicide where death is performed by another person with the consent of the person who is ultimately die (LeBaron, 1999). Involuntary is the more obvious where death is placed upon a person without their consent (LeBaron).
Under the Death with Dignity Act passed in Oregon, it allows physician aid-in-dying to be a legal action. However, under this act there are strict guidelines and patient criteria that must be met before it can happen. Part of the eligibility criteria includes limiting access to competent , legal residents of the state over the age of eighteen, that have a terminal illness which has been confirmed by two independent physicians (Braddock, Starks, Dudzinski, & White, 2010). For the sake of this act, terminal is defined as an estimated life expectancy of six months or less. There is also a requirement for two oral requests with a fifteen day period between the two, as well as a written request that was done in front of a witness (Braddock, et al.). Any prescription for the purpose of dying once everything has been approved must be written no less than forty-eight hours after the receipt of the written request and the patient must be able to self-administer the medications themselves. The last major provision under the act is that any physician has the right to decline prescribing medication for the purpose of ending life (Braddock, et al.).
Physician Assisted Suicide p. 4
Many believe that physician aid-in-dying is the same as euthanasia....