Physician Assisted Suicide

Topics: Euthanasia, Death, Suicide, Voluntary euthanasia, Medical ethics / Pages: 31 (7664 words) / Published: Oct 12th, 2003
In today's society, one of the most controversial issues is physician-assisted suicide for the terminally ill. Many people feel that it is wrong for people, regardless of their health condition, to ask their health care provider to end their life; while others feel it is their right to be able to choose how and when they die. When a physician is asked to help a patient into death, they have many responsibilities that come along with that single question. Among those responsibilities are: providing valid information as to the terminal illness the patient is suffering, educating the patient as to what their final options may be, making the decision of whether or not to help the patient into death, and also if they do decide to help, providing the lethal dose of medication that will end the patient's life. For those who believe physician-assisted suicide should be their choice, they feel it should be legalized because: they don't want to go through the suffering caused by the terminal illness; they fear the loss of their autonomy (independence); becoming a burden to their family or friends, and also the fear of dying alone. One the other hand those opposed to assisted suicide feel it goes against religious beliefs and medical ethics. They also believe that there is always the possibility that a miracle will occur and the patient will overcome the illness and also that the doctor could have provided the wrong prognosis/diagnosis to the patient. The strongest reason against physician-assisted suicide has been the idea that if assisted suicide becomes legal, it will get out of hand and target certain people in society, such as those with disabilities, or certain races.
In 1990, physician-assisted suicide became better known to the public when Dr. Jack Kevorkian, a retired pathologist, helped to assist his first patient into death (Landau 80). Kevorkian had created a machine, known as the "suicide machine", which was made up of three glass bottles connected to an IV. In



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