Physician Assisted Suicide
July 9, 2012
Most states in the United States make euthanasia, also known as physician-assisted suicide, a felony crime, punishable by years of imprisonment. Euthanasia is a very notorious issue within the medical and legal systems; which has been in debate for almost two million years. The word ‘euthanasia’ comes from the Greek origin and means “good death, or easy death.” (Pozgar, 2010) When considering a physician acting in the best interest of the patient, the “legal system must ensure that the constitutional rights of the patient are maintained, while protecting society’s interests in preserving life, preventing suicide, and maintaining the ...view middle of the document...
Passive euthanasia “occurs when a lifesaving treatment (such as a respirator) is withdrawn or withheld, allowing a terminally ill patient to die a natural death.” (Pozgar, 2010) To go a step further, both active and passive euthanasia can be either voluntary or involuntary. When the situation comes up that a terminally ill patient makes the decision to die, there are certain protocol that have to be followed for this type of voluntary euthanasia to be legal. “A formal request or consent must be made by a competent adult and be based on material information concerning the possible ramifications and alternatives available.” (Pozgar, 2010) Involuntary euthanasia is just what it sounds like it is. It would be someone other than the terminally ill or incurable patient dosing lethal medications or lethal amounts of a medication with the intent to cause death. It can easily be understood why euthanasia, in general, is such a controversial issue within the health care profession. Most humans are compassionate, especially one who studies to become a doctor. It makes sense for a physician to feel great compassion for a patient, or the family of a patient, suffering and in intense pain. But, there are strict rules and guidelines that physicians are to uphold upon the delivery of health care. The Hippocratic Oath is just one example of some of the pre-set standards for all physicians—to cause no harm, only to help people. All of the aspects must be seriously considered, regardless of the compassion a physician might feel. There are also other legal aspects to consider, such as a living will, the right to die without a living will, durable power of attorney, surrogate decision making, DNR’s, health care proxy’s, and advance directives.
Within the state of Texas, euthanasia is illegal. Several states including: Oregon, Washington, California, Michigan, and Maine have legalized euthanasia. “In Oregon, the patient must make two oral requests at least 15 days apart and must also make a written, witnessed request for the prescription.” (Volker, 2007) In the Netherlands, euthanasia is very common, as well as legal. Citizens there must carry an identification card deeming if they are to ever be euthanized or not.
“During the 1997 session of the Texas Legislature, a bill was introduced (Senate Bill 414). This bill included a provision stating that any medical doctor in Texas who denied lifesaving treatment to a patient requesting such treatment would be free of any culpability either civil or criminal if the patient were to suffer harm or death as a result of his decision. Passage of this bill would have given sanction to active legal involuntary euthanasia in Texas. Texas Right to Life fought against passage of the bill with all the resources at our command. Rep. Longoria of San Antonio introduced our desired amendments that would have given the patient the right to receive continued lifesaving treatment until another caregiver could be found...