Physician Assisted Suicide: the Moral Debate

Topics: Death, Patient, Health care Pages: 3 (848 words) Published: July 18, 2009
Physician-assisted Suicide: The Moral Debate
Axia College of University of Phoenix
Physician-assisted suicide is the process of killing oneself with the assistance from a physician that writes a lethal prescription for a medication to be administered in the presence of another health professional and is currently legal in only three states, Oregon, Washington and Montana. There are certain qualifications that one must meet to qualify for the service Oregon has named the “Death with Dignity Act”; however, more often than not these stipulations are not being satisfied sufficiently and instead the physician is granting requests without paying mind to the depression the patient may be suffering from. Health insurance companies in these statesare also taking this bill that is supposed to empower patients to choose their own fate and turning it into a reason to exclude coverage for the drugs needed to prolong their lives. Instead of covering thousands of dollars worth of chemotherapy or other treatments, the insurance company would rather take the cheaper way out and offer physician assisted suicide. While it allows the terminally ill to take control of their own fate, physician-assisted suicide should be illegal as it allows outside sources to make deciding factors on the value of human life. Figure 1

The number of participating prescribing physicians in Oregon between 2000 and 2007 {draw:frame}
Figure 2
Lethal prescriptions written versus the amount of resulting deaths between 1998 and 2007. {draw:frame}
Allowing Physician-assistedsuicide may prompt families, loved ones and medical professionals to give up hope too soon. As with most things in the medical field, anything can happen. Miracles happen every day. These miracles can include a person becoming capable of living longer than expected and even being cured of the disease that was once thought to be terminal. Instead of trying to find cures for diseases or ways to prolong life, physicians...

References: Stevens, Jr. M.D.FACR, Kenneth R., Emotional and Psychological Effects of Physician-Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia on Participating Physicians, Volume 21 Issues in Law & Med. 187 (2006).
"Several Healthcare Provider Groups Announce Refusal to Participate: Physician-Assisted Suicide Is Legalized in Washington State." National Right to Life News 35.11-12 (Nov 2008): Page 12. General OneFile. Gale. Apollo Library. 10 Mar. 2009
Hendin, Herbert, and Kathleen Foley. "Physician-assisted suicide in Oregon: a medical perspective." Issues in Law & Medicine 24.2 (Fall 2008): 121(25). General OneFile. Gale. Apollo Library. 12 Mar. 2009
Engber, Daniel. “How Does Assisted Suicide Work? A guide to “Death With Dignity” in Oregon.” Paragraph 5. (Oct. 6, 2005). 10 Mar. 2009
James, Susan D. “Death Drugs Cause Uproar in Oregon. Terminally Ill Denied Drugs For Life, But Can Opt For Suicide.” Paragraph 4. (Aug. 6, 2008). 12 Mar. 2009 <>
Stevens, Jr., M.D., Kenneth R. “Oregon Rationing Cancer Treatment but Offering Assisted Suicide to Cancer Patients Paying to Die but not to Live.” Paragraph 5. (June 6, 2008). 11 Mar. 2009
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