PHI 103 An introduction to Logic
Instructor: Cecil Mayhill
Should Physician Assisted Suicide be Legal?
The debate for physician-assisted suicide has been going on for a long time. This debate can be trace back to the Greek and Roman times. Physician-assisted suicide debate originally was centered on the Hippocratic Oath and the condemnation of the practice. There are many Christians and many physicians continued to condemn the practice. Many are for physician assisted suicide to be legal and there are many against it. You have some people to believe that physician-assisted suicide insist that terminally ill individuals should have the right to end their suffering. On the other hand, others believe if the practice of physician-assisted suicide becomes acceptable, society will pressure patients into choosing death instead providing them with quality end-of-life. This is a controversy subject. Although this debate has been a lengthy one and many issues discussed over the centuries are repetitive, new ideas and concerns. I will provide some pros and cons of physician-assisted suicide. The standard arguments in favor of a legal right to physician-assisted suicide are hardly news. It is frequently asserted that there ought to be a right to physician-assisted suicide under United States law in order to enable qualified patients to avoid unnecessary suffering, to enable qualified patients to die with dignity, and to respect those patients’ right to autonomy or self-determination (Lesser, 2010). For one thing, it is essential to distinguish between reasoning from authoritative legal sources to conclusion about what the law is and reasoning from moral premises to what the law ought to be. “The Philosophers’ Brief” purports to consist of purely legal reasoning. “These cases do not invite or require the court to make moral, ethical or religious judgments about how people should approach or confront their death or about when it is ethically appropriate to hasten one’s own death or ask others for help in doing so (Lesser, 2010). In response to the claim there is a right to die, there was detailed article published in the Hastings Center Report about the evolution of rights. According to the original liberal thinkers on rights, the right to commit suicide goes against the idea of a natural right. The philosophical arguments go to show there is no historical precedent for a right to be made dead, let alone requiring others to help. The essence of individual freedom is a sense of not belonging to someone else, not merely doing whatever you please. The current positing of rights to do whatever one pleases is a modern development and is seldom upheld in courts (Kass, 1993). Although there may or may not be a right to die, there are other arguments for physician-assisted suicide. Quill (1991) showed how compassion can lead to the assisting of one’s death. However at the same time Quill has discussed how a patient asking to die may not always be making a legitimate request. His idea is that this request should lead to query about death and the options should be explored, instead of a simple yes or no answer. His example of a fifty five year old woman who requested to die was really a response to not wanting to undergo any more treatment for cancer and a desire to take a more symptom-related treatment path. Some patients are in a spiritual crisis, psychosocial problems, and even clinical depression. All of these requests for help, with proper discussion of options can lead to a more positive end of life experience. Physician can feel sympathetic to a situation where there is nothing they can due to alleviate the pain of a patient. For many, simply side-stepping the question is unethical since the question can represent a cry for help (Quill, 1991). So the compassion for a patient who is in terminal pain can lead...