Physician Assisted Suicide and Voluntary Active Euthanasia: A Closer Look
In this essay, I will first argue that physician assisted suicide (PAS) is morally easier to defend than voluntary active euthanasia (VAE), maintaining the view that the patient must take full responsibility for his/her actions if he/she has the capacity to do so. I will also show that there is little difference (although there is one) between PAS and VAE, and how the effects of linguistic impression divide the two, and why both, in my opinion, should be legalized (although VAE must only be in used in cases where the patient is so debilitated that PAS does not apply) . I will do this by showing how the positive arguments outweigh the negative consequences. I shall also, while addressing the negative consequences, counter the slippery slope arguments employed by those who do not share my stance on this issue. It would also be prudent to mention that my understanding of this debate has been formed primarily by the understanding and following (or attempting to follow) the line of reasoning given in the articles - 'Voluntary Active Euthanasia' by Dan W. Brock and 'Physician-Assisted Suicide - A Tragic View' by John D. Arras.
I will first begin by defining Euthanasia and Physician Assisted Suicide and explain the similarities and differences, to give the reader a very clear understanding of the terms. In doing so, I shall employ two arguments (involving linguistic impression) to explain there is no difference between active and passive euthanasia and almost no difference between VAE and PAS (although there is one). In my final third argument, I shall address why PAS is easier to defend morally than VAE, and why VAE should only be performed where PAS is not applicable. Then I will discuss the positive and negative arguments of legalizing PAS and VAE, and show how the positive outweigh the negative. Finally I will outline a brief social policy that might be kept in mind, to provide a rudimentary framework for the legalization.
The relevant Oxford Dictionary defines Euthanasia as -
Euthanasia (from Greek: ευθανασία -ευ, eu, "good", θάνατος, thanatos, death) /yoothnayzi/
• noun the painless killing of a patient suffering from an incurable disease or in an irreversible coma.
Voluntary Active Euthanasia involves the patient, by way of volition, requesting the physician to administer a lethal dose of injection. Voluntary Passive Euthanasia would be the physician turning off life support systems at the patients' request. An example of (active) Physician Assisted Suicide would involve the patient...