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Physician Assisted Suicide Essay

2223 words - 9 pages

Physician-Assisted Suicide


In today's society, a very controversial issue is physician-assisted suicide for terminally ill patients. Many people feel that it is wrong for people, regardless of their health situation, to ask their doctor or attendant to end their life. Others feel it is their right to be able to choose how and when they die. When a doctor is asked to help a patient to their death, they have certain responsibilities that come along with it. Among these duties, they must prove valid information as to the terminal illness the patient is suffering. They also must educate the patient as to what their final options may be. When they make the decision of whether or not to help the patient into death, and should they accept responsibility, they must provide the lethal dose of medicines that will end the life of the patient.

For those, myself included, who believe physician-assisted suicide should be their choice, we feel it should be legalized because: they don't want to go through the suffering caused by the illness they have. They fear the loss of their independence because they feel they become a burden to their family or friends.

On the other hand those opposed to the issue of assisted suicide feel it goes against religious beliefs and common medical ethics. They also believe that there is always the possibility that a miracle will occur and the patient will overcome the illness and also that the doctor could have provided the wrong diagnosis to the patient initially. The strongest reason against physician-assisted suicide has been the idea that if assisted suicide becomes legal, it will get out of hand and target certain people in society, such as those with disabilities.

In 1990, physician-assisted suicide became better known to the public when Dr. Jack Kevorkian, a retired pathologist, helped assist his first patient into death (Landau 80). Kevorkian had created a machine, known as the "suicide machine", which was made up of three glass bottles connected to an IV. In the three bottles were saline solution, a sedative, and potassium chloride. When the patients felt they were ready to begin the process, they turned the machine on themselves and were put to sleep by the sedative. After this, they were eventually killed by the potassium chloride. It has been said that when the people began hearing about Dr. Kevorkian and his "suicide machine", many terminally ill patients began to fear their own physicians. The patients began to believe that all physicians were out to assist them to death or try to talk them into physician-assisted suicide (Thomas 14). Kevorkian claimed that he had, “caused no death; he just helped with his patient's "last civil rights.” He states that doctors that don't help assist their patients are like the “Nazi doctors during World War 2, those who used experiments on the Jewish people.” (50-51).

For those people who believe that physician-assisted suicide should be their choice, they...

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