Physician Assisted Suicide Pros and Cons

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Physician Assisted Suicide Pros and Cons
Patricia Cole
SOC 120
Erin Schouten
January 28, 2013

The question is should incurable patients be able to commit physician assisted suicide, and depending on which group you talk to the pros or cons they both have well developed arguments as to which is right and which one is wrong. Even though physician assisted suicide may help patients with debilitating conditions that medicine cannot manage, I am against it because suicide even for the terminally ill is wrong and with the appropriate care like palliative treatment it is an unnecessary act. The theory that I believe to be the foundation of my beliefs is the deontological and the argument for the sanctity of life. It is the simplest moral outlook on suicide. The sanctity of life holds that it is wrong because human life is sacred. Though this position is mainly associated with the church or religious realm, Ronald Darrkin (1993) points out that atheists may also find appeal to this claim as well. According to the “sanctity of life” the human life is very precious and valuable and demanding respect from others and reverence for oneself. Suicide is so wrong because it violates our moral duty in honoring the value of life. The position of physician assisted suicide is a view of the deontological theory and the sanctity of life. It would go against the Hippocratic Oath that a doctor takes when they receive their medical degree. This oath was created so that patients would be assured that their physician is there for their best interest and mean them no harm in any way. It could even open up the door for noncritical patient suicide. One example would be patients that want to die for emotional or psychological reasons. They may try to convince their doctors to help end their life. The American Medical Association has been very outspoken and influential on the topic of physician assisted suicide and has stated “that participation is fundamentally incompatible with a physician’s role as a healer” (AMA, 1997, p. 290). We need to keep our values that we grew up with in check and remember there are things to live for. We need to protect our morality and that of our doctors as well and keep in mind that there are other ways to die with dignity. Most religions groups are against suicide and the Bible states that “Thou shall not kill” (EXODUS 20:13), so they would object to the concept of physician assisted suicide. Then there is the family and what they may or may not want. In a short communication, The irony of supporting physician –assisted suicide: a personal account by Margaet Pabst Battin. In her opinion it should be the choice of the individual. She talks about the autonomy argument and the mercy argument. Autonomy is a factor that has already been decided by our society in making decisions on someone ending their life. The argument for mercy is that “no one should have to suffer from pain or any other intolerable suffering, where it cannot be treated by means acceptable to the patient and is not embraced for the other reasons having to do with values important to that person, even if this may mean ending life” Battin, P. M. (2010). As a society we have formally decided this when we let the government give the individual the right to refuse medical treatment, even for life sustaining treatments. With her husband who had a bicycle accident November 2008 that paralyzed him had to be put on a ventilator. Her thought was what if he wanted to die, could she just stand there while his ventilator was turned off. With her husband’s accident she said things changed and the issue of physician assisted suicide had become harder to think about. It was not just about terminally ill people any more, but it included her husband now and she did not think she could stand there and watch him be euthanized by his physician. “A person should be accorded the right to live his or her life as they see...
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