Should Physician-Assisted Suicide Be Legal?
Eileen K. Cordova
Instuctor James Hardy
July 11, 2013
SHOULD PHYSICIAN ASSISTED SUICIDE BE LEGAL
Physician-assisted suicide has been a controversial topic for over a decade now. In today’s society, physician-assisted suicide brings so many ehtical questions as such, who is the true owner of our lives? Should releiving pain and suffering always be the highest priority, or does it occure for a reason? Is God really the Beginning and the End, Alpha and Omega, and the Creator of heaven and earth, including our lives? After all, it states in the Holy Bible that God is in control of our lives, and He tells us we all have a purpose in this world, right? If that’s true, then it is His decision when our time here on earth is up, not our own? There are no clear answers as to whether or not physician-assisted suicide be legalized, mostly because this is an ethical issue that is dependent on an individual’s values, morals, beliefs, religion, and personal experiences. Therefore, the debate on whether physician-assisted suicide should be legal, will most likely remain just that, a debate. Many people oppose the issue of legalizing of physician-assisted suicide on the ground that (as they think) there is no way of sustaining the practice so as to provide adequate protection’s for the poor and the weak, They might be right, and if they are, then all bets are off. Alternatively, they may be wrong.
Physician-assisted suicide presents one of the greater contemporary challenges to the medical profession’s ethical responsibilities. Proposed as a mean to humane care of the dying, asssisted suicide threatens the very core of the medical profession’s ethical integrity. Broad public debate was sparked in June of 1990, when Dr. Jack Keverkian assisted in the suicide of Janet Atkins (NY Times, June 6, 1990: A1). The debate advanced in March, 1991, when Dr. Timothy McQuill disclosed his assistance in the suicide of Diane Trumbell. Other public events quickly followed.
Physician-assisted suicide, together with euthanasia, was placed on the public ballot in Washington State, 1991, and in California in 1992. In both cases, voters turned down purposals to legalize physician-assisted dying (USA Today, August 9, 1993: 13:A). In Septemberof 1998, by a vote of 5-4, Canada’s Supreme Court denieda woman’s request to end her life by assisted suicide (October 29, 1993: A8). In 1994, voters in Oregon decided whether to legalize assisted suicide in their state.
In 1993, resolution was announced at the Annual Meeting by the Medical Student Section and Referral to the Board of Trustees by the House of Delegates, requested on ethical study of assisted suicide. In that report, the council revisited the issue of physician-assisted suicide. On October 27, 1997, Oregon legalized physician-assisted suicide. “Physician-Assisted Death (PAD) was legalized by referendum in Oregon, and now there are 11 years of data studying the practice. Physician-assisted suicide was also legalized by referendum in the state of Washington in 2008, and it is currently permitted in Montana since 2009 based on case law “ (Quill, T.E. 2012).
When on thinks of suicide, we think of a person who takes their own life. A patient who is physically capable of committing suicide, will act out, and end their own life. Providing a way for another individual to end their life with any kinds of weapons, objects, or pills, is physician-assisted sucide.
For a number of reason, the medical profession has refected assisted suicide as fundamentally incosnistant with the professional role of physicians as healers. Indeed, according to the Hippocratic Oath, “physicians shall give no deadly drug to any, though it be asked of them, nor will they council such”. Physician’s serve patient’s, not because patient’s exercise self determisnation, but because patient’s are in need.
References: Battle, J.C. (2003). Legal states of physician assisted suicide. JAMA, (289(17), 2279-81
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Keown, J. (2000). Physician-Assisted Suicide: Expanding the debate. Journal of Medical Ethics, 26(4), 291.
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