Should Physician-Assisted Suicide be legalized?

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ShouldPhysician-Assisted Suicide be legalized?

ShouldPhysician-Assisted Suicide be legalized?

Physician-assistedsuicide (PAS) has always been a controversial issue in the UnitedStates. The current question is whether physicians should help in thekilling and if the law should be amended to allow those entrustedwith treating patients to be the ones to terminate it. According tosome, there are moral reasons that hinder the physicians from endingthe life of their patients. Others claim that some diseases andconditions cause severe pain to the patients and the physician, uponapproval from the patient or relatives of the ill can terminate life.One of the states that have recently permitted the practice isCalifornia, making it the fifth in the United States. In such states,only a licensed doctor can prescribe lethal medication to criticallyill patients. Recent data from Oregon medical statistics indicatethat 1545 people got prescriptions in the previous year and only 991died after taking medications. Although many states have declined toapprove &quotmercy killing&quot due to several ethical reasons, itis evident that with the gradual increase in cases of terminaldiseases such as cancer and diabetes, different states will have tostart reconsidering their stance. From an individual’s perspective,Physician-assisted suicide (PAS) should be legalized to allowcritically ill patients to end their misery in the sick bed. Thisessay will provide explanation and demonstrate the moral reasoningbehind the above claim and state some of the opposing viewpointsregarding Physician-assisted suicide.


Themain argument in supporting why PAS should be legalized is that aimsat ending the misery and pain that most terminally ill patientsundergo. A practical example of this is seen in a hospital settingwhere a patient is lying attached to countless life support machines.Doctors and the nurses keep on visiting and checking and waking himor her up while the patient is trying to get even the rare sleep thatone can grasp amidst the pain. On top of this, the patient is alsosuffering from the adverse effects of drugs that have to beadministered to cool down the pain and others to manage the disease.The patient is also faced with other problems such as loss ofappetite, constipation, and fatigue. Worst of all, in case thepatient still has some energy to open his or her eyes, they have toendure the emotional torture that he or she is making the family,friends, and relatives to undergo (Alghrani, Bennett &amp Ost,2013). A keen look at the doctors indicate that there are no chancesof survival and death is imminent. All signs point out that it isonly a matter of time before the patient meet his or her maker. It isevident that under such condition if given a chance, anybody wouldautomatically take advantage of the opportunity not even for his orher sake but for their families and end their life.

Physician-assistedsuicide should be legalized because it ensures dignity in death andis thus a human way of terminating. It is known that terminalconditions such as cancer and diabetes can reduce very strong andwell-respected characters to frail suffering individuals. As aresult, they have to depend on other people for personal hygiene andfood which can be very dehumanizing if someone has no close family orclose relatives. Additionally, it is evident that some terminalillnesses such as diabetes may result in deterioration or lack ofproper vision. Other conditions may also lead to hearing capabilitiesand mobility. Upon the death of the patient, the only memoriesremaining on family and friend`s minds are the sorry state of theirloved one and the misery that they had to bear. Those in support ofPAS, therefore, state that a person who has always led a dignifiedlife should be saved from undergoing all these shame and die in sucha sorry state yet something could have been done.

Physician-assistedsuicide should be legalized to respect people`s autonomy. Existingevidence indicates that in most cases where physician-assistedsuicide have been used, it was upon approval by either the patient orhis or her family members. The law should thus allowphysician-assisted suicide because it is aimed at ensuring thatindividual rights and choices are respected. Instead of prohibitingsuch legislatures, they should be enacted and strengthened to allowmercy killing when it has been confirmed beyond reasonable doubt thatthere is no way out and the patient is undergoing extreme suffering.

Ithas been argued that despite the practice being illegal in somestates many medical practitioners and physicians still carry it outsecret and should thus be legalized. As long as the federalgovernments continue to bury their head in the sand and deny thatseveral hospitals are allowing PAS, they will always far fromreality. If it were to be legalized, the procedure would ultimatelybring both the physician and the patient to a fair debate about thematter at hand (Attaran, 2015). Additionally, such enactment will notonly remove the disarray, but it will also encourage publicawareness, and it will be possible to have clear directives on how tohandle physician-assisted suicide. The manner in which citizens viewdignity of life will be changed for the better because they will nowunderstand that even though terminal diseases makes life not worthliving, people should die with respect and dignity.

Physician-assistedsuicide should be legalized because of the cost involved intreatment. Although it cannot be argued that there is human lifecannot be equated to money and that several cases of terminally illpatients are usually senior citizens who have spent all their livessaving for their children and also have weak immune system to enablethem to fight infections, it is uneconomical for them to continue tospending their savings on treatment which will not work in the longrun. Additionally, it is undisputable that treating a terminally illpatient is very costly and demand a lot a lot of attention, when thecost and the benefits of PAS are compared, it is acceptable to saythat if the ill has approved the use of euthanasia, the government,and other stakeholders should grant him or her the wish. Though suchdecision may seem very unpopular at the moment, in the long run, itwill serve the interest of both the diseased and the family members.The disease will be remembered for protecting the family.

Physicianassisted suicide should be legalized because, upon diagnosis ofdiagnosis of terminal diseases, the sanctity of life is reduced. Bothmajor religions such as Christianity and Islam believe that life isholy and no one has the power or obligation to end his or her life.However, when defining life, it is evident that they are referring toan individual who is able of making concrete decisions and even ifsick, they still have their sanctity intact. In the case ofterminally ill patients who may resort to this option, it is evidentthat their lives are always characterized by long hours of medicaltreatment and hospital visits, the patient`s life is usually reducedto bed ridden and he or she has to endure facing sympathy from familyand friends. All this pain and anguish is not worth if one is stillconfident that the ultimate destination is death.

Lastly,assisted death is an inherent right which an individual should notplead to be accorded because it may be a way of someone to pursuetheir happiness. The patient might have undergone a lot of emotional,physical and psychological torture and decided upon himself that theonly way to redeem him or herself is through physician-assistedsuicide.


Accordingto deontological theory, choices are not supposed to be justified bytheir outcomes. This means that it is wrong to term an individualunlawful on the account that he or she has made a wrong alternative.The question that lingers then is, what differentiates a right orwrong thing? According to deontologists, an action will be termed asgood if it is in agreement with the society`s ethical standards andas such the right action should thus be the preferred one (Nathan,2015). As a result, an action should be taken because it is right andnot simply because it is good and so should be the outcome ofwhichever decision that an individual makes. The theory goes furtherand states that with these provisions, it is possible for certainactions to be right without necessarily being good.

Inrelation to the person who should take particular actions, the theorysuggests that, at times, some choices may as well be undertaken evenif the individual tasked is not obligated to confirm with the act. Inthe context of a hospital setting, physicians, for instance, have theobligation and the right regarding any action that they take. In casethe actions result in some kind of evil, the agent should be readyand willing to tolerate the consequences. This means that thedefinition of what is morally right is dependent on the agent`sdefinition. In the case whereby another third party is to be thebeneficiary of any decision made, the patient-centered deontologicaltheory state that no one is allowed to kill even if their death willmean saving more lives (Attaran, 2015). Conclusively, it argues thatactions should be taken based on its morality,

Paleontologicaltheory in relation to PAS

Itis evident that the paleontological theory applies to the issue ofphysician-assisted suicide (PAS). From the theory, it is clear thatPAS can be attributed to many factors with the major one being to endthe patient`s suffering, particularly when it has been confirmed thatthere is no recovery for the patient. On the other hand, the theoryforbids physician`s assisted suicide on the basis that the medicalpractitioner in charge is trying to bring about a good consequence(Nathan, 2015). An example of this is seen in the case where the mainobjective of the physician is to help terminate the life of thepatient because he or she has sympathy and want to harvest the bodyorgans of the terminally ill patient.

UsingKant`s theory, deontology suggest that just as one wants to betreated by others when in a certain circumstance, they too should beready to do the same for them (Nathan, 2015). In PAS, it is evidentthat the patient is undergoing a lot of emotional and psychologicalpain. On top of these is the anguish that he or she has to endurewhen they see his or her friends and relatives suffer. In such asituation, a moral dilemma thus arises when the patient requests thephysician to end his or her life. Once the patient or close relativehave approved assisted death, the physician is obligated to thinkcritically into the matter and reason what the patient could havedesired if the circumstances were reversed.

Accordingto deontology theory, it is only right for the physician to conductmercy killing with the consent of the patient. Even when it isevident that the patient is in great pain and has not authorizedmercy killing, it is immoral for him or her to use his judgment.Additionally, the fact that the patient has requested for the usageof euthanasia does not mean that the physician is obligated based onagent-centered theory. It is upon the physician to weigh the pros andcons and decide if he or she is ready to tolerate the immorality thanwill result from the killing act. Under deontology theory, no one isforced to take any action (Attaran, 2015). The theory forbids thecommon claim that if killing a terminally ill patient will result inthe benefit of many, then it is justified. For example, it is wrongfor someone to kill a sick person to benefit unless permission by therelevant parties has been granted.


Counter-claimto the idea that physician-assisted suicide should be legalized haveoften claimed that legalizing the act is a violation of theHippocratic Oath and as a result, it is unethical. According to them,the act on its own devalues the human life and should be viewed assuicide attempt which is highly prohibited in many religions. Theygive an example incidence where a physician has made the wrongprognoses. As an alternative, they recommend the terminally illpatient to be given palliative care so as to have a chance ofrecovery.

Froman individual’s perspective, some of these claims are untruebecause, for instance, it is known that in cancer treatment,physicians often use chemotherapy and radioactive medicine which arehighly toxic to the body. If their claims are genuine that PAS shouldbe banned because of the Hippocratic Oath, they should as welladvocate for the abolishing of using chemotherapy in cancertreatment. These forms of treatments are very toxic to the body andeventually results in systemic damage of vital organs. Additionally,before resorting to the usage of euthanasia, it is evident that allthe treatment options have been exhausted and it has been confirmedthrough repeated laboratory test than the chances of survival arealmost none. Use of palliative care only adds salt to the misery thatboth the patient and the family is undergoing (Hertogh, 2015). It isthus evident that no person should be allowed to suffer because he orshe has been denied a right that can be accorded through legalizationof physician-assisted suicide.


Itis evident that with the increasing cases of terminal illnesses thatsubject people to a lot of suffering, the government should considerlegalization physician-assisted suicide. Current statistics alreadypoint out that many people request for mercy killing and a largeportion of them go ahead and take the prescribed medications to endtheir suffering. Some of the reasons as to why there is the need forPAS legalization are that it aims at putting an end to the misery andpain that most terminally ill patients face. Additionally, it ensuresdignity in death is thus a humane way of ending life. It also showsrespect to people’s autonomy. Lastly, PAS should be legalizedbecause terminal illness makes people lose their sanctity and even ifbanned, statistics demonstrate that it is still done in secret andthis give room for errors and use of improper and unapprovedprocedures. Those against the technique argue that it undermineshuman dignity and is against the Hippocratic Oath. However, theseclaims are untrue because the same institutions still approvetreatment methods such as chemotherapy which poison internal organsand can cause death.


Alghrani,A., Bennett, R., &amp Ost, S. (Eds.). (2013).&nbspBioethics,Medicine and the Criminal Law: The Criminal Law and BioethicalConflict: Walking the Tightrope&nbsp(Vol.1). Cambridge University Press.

Attaran,A. (2015). Unanimity on death with dignity—legalizingphysician-assisted dying in Canada.&nbspNewEngland Journal of Medicine,&nbsp372(22),2080-2082.

Hudson,P., Hudson, R., Philip, J., Boughey, M., Kelly, B., &amp Hertogh, C.(2015). Legalizing physician-assisted suicide and/or euthanasia:Pragmatic implications.&nbspPalliativeand Supportive Care,&nbsp13(05),1399-1409.

Kopelman,L. M., &amp Ville, K. A. (2012). Physician-AssistedSuicide: What are the Issues?Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands.

Nathan,R. (2015). Is Euthanasia Morally Permissible? Why or Why Not? SoundDecisions: An Undergraduate Bioethics Journal,1(1),4.

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