Physician Assisted Suicide: Permissible or Not?

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Nikia Washington
April 24, 2012
Death and Dying
Christian Coons
Physician Assisted Suicide: Permissible or Not?
In the case of Physician Assisted Suicide, I believe only in certain, extreme, and clearly defined situations should a doctor be allowed to prescribe a drug to terminate a patient’s life. The role of a practicing medical doctor, or a physician, is defined by Mosby’s Dental Dictionary as a practitioner of medicine; one lawfully engaged in the practice of medicine. The essential word in this definition is lawful – physicians must act in a manner that is ethical to their practice and lawful to the country in which they are practicing. In most countries, murder and suicide are unlawful; therefore for a doctor to commit such an act would be considered as crime. For this reason, I stand by my belief that doctors should only prescribe life terminating drugs in certain cases, which I will explain below. To help strengthen my argument, I will use facts and opinions given by philosophers James Rachels and John Paul ll. James Rachels, an American philosopher who specialized in ethics, authored an article titled Active and Passive Euthanasia, which describes the difference between two forms of euthanasia. Active euthanasia is defined as a circumstance in which a doctor administers drugs into a patient’s body with intent to end their life. Passive euthanasia is when a doctor withdraws from giving their patient medical attention, knowing that without the care they will seize to survive. After reading Rachels’ article, I was able to differentiate between the two forms of physician assisted suicide, which essentially helped in my deliberation if it should be permissible. Additionally, my argument is based upon the definition and viewpoint philosopher John Paul II’s gave of euthanasia in his article The Tragedy of Euthanasia. In his article euthanasia is described as “an action or omission which of itself and by intention causes death, with the purpose of...
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