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Physicians Assisted Suicide Essay

3367 words - 14 pages

Physicians-Assisted Suicide
Physician-Assisted Suicide is a medical process where a physician supplies a terminally ill patient with a prescription for one dose of lethal medication. The prescription is given to a patient upon request only if the patient intends to end his or her own life because of suffrage from a terminal illness. Today, physicians-assisted suicide is more commonly known as the Death-With-Dignity Act. Recent stories of patients who have attempted to end their own life by lethal medication have made countless headlines concerning the topic throughout many informational sources. Currently, the states of Washington, Oregon, and Vermont are the only three states that have ...view middle of the document...

The role of a physician is to use their skills to alleviate the medical conditions that cause suffering during a time where a patient is in distress or discomfort. These conditions can be both somatic, including symptoms like pain and nausea and psychological which involve anxiety or depression. Many physicians and patients have agreed that from a professional standpoint, there aren’t any levels of discomfort sufficient enough for a physician to justify assisting suicide.
Individuals who feel that physicians-assisted suicide contradicts the traditional duty of the physician also argue that the practice goes against the Hippocratic Oath. The Hippocratic Oath is a widely known Greek medical text that requires new physicians to swear upon a number or healing gods that he or she will uphold a number of professional ethical standards. The Oath was written in the late 5th century BC, but the principle behind it still remains sacred to many doctors today. The Hippocratic Oath infers that physicians should not deliberately do harm to their patients. This means that they should not intentionally worsen the case of a patient who is ill if worsening of the case would potentially being upon death quicker than it would otherwise. When a physician takes the Hippocratic Oath, they adopt the concept that they will not take part in any practice related to assisting suicide. The oath specifically states, “I will not give a lethal drug to anyone if I am asking, nor will I advise such a plan.”
Another argument that is brought up from those who are opposed to physicians-assisted suicide is a concept known as slippery slope. Slippery slope states if one part of a practice or activity is allowed eventually it would lead to the acceptance of more and more parts of that activity that would usually be deemed unacceptable. Many argue that if physicians-assisted suicide were legalized, abuse would take place that could ultimately lead to euthanasia. Euthanasia is commonly misinterpreted and easily thought of as the same concept as physicians-assisted suicide. Euthanasia, unlike physician-assisted suicide is when the physician physically aids in the death of the patient by a lethal injection. This concept is not legalized anywhere. States who have adopted the Death-With-Dignity Act have done so because the patient is in full control of the consumption of the drug. The only aid the physician provides is administering the prescription for the lethal substance. Those who are opposed to physicians-assisted suicide feel that the concept of the practice enforces death that might not be fully supported by the patient’s choice entirely; but instead influenced by the physician themselves. This possibility could affect patients who might be in a vulnerable state, such as the elderly, to be pressured to choose physicians-assisted suicide over more complex and expensive alternatives such as a nursing home.
Fallibility is another reason why some are opposed to...

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