Is the role of a medical professional to ensure the well-being of
their patients, or to assist them in ending their lives? Many people may believe that physicians would never perform the latter, but in actuality one practice does so. Physician assisted suicide is the intentional ending of one’s life brought on by lethal substances prescribed by a doctor. In the majority of cases, the patient is terminally ill and simply does not desire to live any longer. Their physician provides the medication necessary to end their life. Many supporters aver that this practice is merely an act of compassion as terminally ill persons may suffer extreme pain that eradicates any will to live. They also assert that the decision to die is of the patient’s rights. Undoubtedly, these adherents have not evaluated the copious reasons for opposing this atrocious practice, including that it is medically unethical, it has a great chance of being abused, and a severely ill patient may not be in any position to make decisions pertaining to their death.
Physician-assisted suicide directly contradicts medical ethics. The practice violates the Hippocratic Oath, which every physician is required to take after receiving their degree in medicine (Messerli 3). The vow emphasizes that doctors should never cause any harm (Messerli 3). It is quite clear how this practice is in direct contrast to this principle that a physician’s job is to improve the health of the patient, not to cause detriment to them. Moreover, the primary purpose of the oath is to assure the public that a physician’s job is to help them, not to harm them, and assisted suicides accomplish just the opposite (Morrow 2). Also, the oath states, “I will not give a lethal drug to anyone if I am asked, nor will I advise such a plan” (Greek Medicine… 2). Assisted suicide requires the administration of deadly medications, which completely conflicts with this standard. According to Joe Messerli, “Assisting in suicides would be a violation of that oath, and it would lead to a weakening of doctor-patient trust” (3). If doctors violate the oath, especially the above stated portions, patients may be inclined to question what other standards of medicine are being breached. Assisted suicides contravene medical ethics, as evidenced by the multiple violations of the Hippocratic Oath.
Furthermore, the practice of assisted suicide has a significant possibility of being abused. Assisted suicides are designed to allow those who are seriously ill and suffer from extreme pain to easily end their lives (Braddock and Tenelli 1). Those who lack support from members of their family or friends may feel worthless and hence may desire to end their lives (Pretzer 2). If the patient has no loved ones to confide to and receive support from, they may feel as if no one cares and therefore no reason to live exists. Since assisted suicides are unregulated, doctors may allow patients wishing to die for subordinate reasons, such as the one previously...