Assisted Suicide Definition Essay Topics

The Right to Physician Assisted Suicide Essay

590 Words3 Pages

Assisted suicide, by definition, is suicide facilitated by another person, especially a physician, in order to end the life of a patient suffering from an incurable or life-threatening illness. Ever since its first use in the 1970s, physician assisted suicide has been a topic of much controversy in the modern world. Issues surrounding the life or death of a person come with many sensitive areas of concern, including financial, legal, ethical, spiritual, and medical matters. Today, physician assisted suicide has only been legalized in two states while many other states have been fighting to pass or amend the Death with Dignity Act. But while some may say that physician assisted suicide is immoral and impractical because it deserts the hope…show more content…

Assisted suicide, by definition, is suicide facilitated by another person, especially a physician, in order to end the life of a patient suffering from an incurable or life-threatening illness. Ever since its first use in the 1970s, physician assisted suicide has been a topic of much controversy in the modern world. Issues surrounding the life or death of a person come with many sensitive areas of concern, including financial, legal, ethical, spiritual, and medical matters. Today, physician assisted suicide has only been legalized in two states while many other states have been fighting to pass or amend the Death with Dignity Act. But while some may say that physician assisted suicide is immoral and impractical because it deserts the hope for further healing, patients who are at death’s door should have the right to die with dignity with the aid of a practicing physician as an alternative to continually living with the burden of a terminal illness. Allowing physician assisted suicide to be an option for terminally ill patients alleviates the suffering that they may have to endure. How can the government make a decision to keep aching patients from alleviating their pain? The incident of Matthew Donnelly illustrates the perfect case of a patient whose suffering had gone on too long: Matthew’s job of working with x-ray research had left him with skin cancer that slowly deteriorated his entire body. With an estimate of only a year left to live, Matthew Donnelly laid in

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Physician Assisted Suicide


Physician Assisted Suicide (PAS) has long been an issue of intensive debate. Given a broad range of involved stakeholders – including, but not limited to, patients, physicians, families, nurses and courts – PAS has often been discussed in a multitude of perspectives, mainly ethical, medical and legal. Further, surveys and comparative studies show nonconsensual applications across practices and boundaries. This paper, accordingly, aims to problematize PAS as ethically demoralizing, medically inappropriate and legally indefinite.


Against a broad definition of PAS as a practice which ranges between euthanasia and withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment, ethicality of PAS practices has long been in question. Given patient differential attitudes towards PAS and palliative options, ethicality has been a major factor in PAS decision-making. Moreover, actual application of PAS laws in specific constituencies has only highlighted concerns of weighing options and reasons in PAS decision-making – hence much exacerbating ethicality of PAS, particularly so when family members are central to decision-making process. Medically, physicians are hard-pressed between inadequate care skills for dying patients, shifting care strategy from treatment to PAS and double effect principle and, not least, better physician-patient communication as regards death institutionalization. Additionally, PAS stakeholders – essentially, families and courts – further problematize physicians' capacity for a well-balanced decision accounting for patient's need for pain relief and legal considerations of PAS decisions. Consequently, PAS decision-making becomes a complex process whereby physicians are no longer bound by sheer medical reasons for PAS but also must factor in a complex set of variables all contributing to final decision-making.


Legally, PAS is, at best, divisive. Although, PAS is legal in few US constituencies, PAS legality is even more controversial when compared to cross-border constituencies. Patient attitude – a compelling factor in PAS decision-making – further complicates PAS legal considerations. Ostensibly, legalization is not enough for final decision making given different attitudes patients adopt on PAS. In constituencies where PAS is legalized, patients' attitudes based on medical (pain), human rights (freedom of choice), religious and moral factors seem central to final decision, notwithstanding legality status. Hence, PAS legal status – practically applied or not – in some constituencies does not guarantee consensus among stakeholders on whether palliative care methods should be pursued or not as opposed to PAS decisions.


In conclusion, Physician Assisted Suicide remains a highly problematic issue ethically, medically and legally. Due to a multitude of compelling factors and a broad range of stakeholders, PAS requires frequent reviews by highly representative panels in order to particularize, manage post-PAS and elaborate future decisions.


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