Brittany Maynard, the 29-year old woman from California who recently moved to
Oregon,where physician-assisted suicide is legal, to avail herself of its Death with Dignity Act, often referred to as the assisted suicide law Maynard, was diagnosed in April with glioblastoma multiforme, fatal stage 4 brain cancer, and given six months to live. She has chosen to set her own terms as to how and when she will die, rather than let the disease take her on its unrelenting course. Her story has received worldwide attention. She has brought much-needed attention to brain cancer, which remains rare, lethal and incurable. She's also and to broader personal issues about dying and living with dignity, and the choices we may or may not have the freedom, not to mention the courage, to make.
It is clear that physician-assisted suicide is one of the most controversial ethical and legal issues. The pros and cons of this ethical dilemma may be justified under John Stuart mill’s theory of utilitarianism as well as on the basis of ethical egoism. Proponents of physicianassisted suicide hold the view that it is the best way to reduce the intense suffering and pain that terminally ill patient go through. Opponents on the other hand argue that physician-assisted suicide is unethical because it disregards the value of human life and violates the nonmalfeasance principle of doing no harm to others.
Arguments supporting physician-assisted suicide highlight the duty to relieve patient
suffering or stem from an understanding of the duty to respect patient autonomy. Positions in favor of legalizing physician-assisted suicide are related to the contemporary trend toward emphasizing patient autonomy in bioethics and law. It is argued that the decision to end one’s life is intensely personal and private, harms no one else, and ought not be prohibited by the
government or the medical profession. Sanctity of life and the “Do no