Physician Assisted Suicide: The Right To Choose

2507 words - 10 pages

Did you know, about 57% of physicians today have received a request for physician assisted suicide due to suffering from a terminally ill patient. Suffering has always been a part of human existence, and these requests have been occurring since medicine has been around. Moreover, there are two principles that all organized medicine agree upon. The first one is physicians have a responsibility to relieve pain and suffering of dying patients in their care. The second one is physicians must respect patients’ competent decisions to decline life-sustaining treatment. Basically, these principles state the patients over the age of 18 that are mentally stable have the right to choose to end their life if they are suffering from pain. As of right now, Oregon, Washington, and Vermont have legalized physician assisted suicide through legislation. Montana has legalized it via court ruling. The first Death with Dignity Act (DWDA) became effective in Oregon in 1997. Washington and Vermont later passed this act in 2009, and Montana passed the Rights of the Terminally Ill Act in 2008. One concern with physician assisted suicide is confusion of the patient’s wishes. To get rid of any confusion and provide evidence in case someone becomes terminally ill, people should make an advanced care plan. The two main lethal drugs that are used during physician assisted suicide are secobarbital and pentobarbital. Appropriate reporting is necessary when distributing these drugs and performing the suicide in order to publish an analysis. Studies found a large number of people accepted this procedure under certain circumstances; therefore, physician assisted suicide should be legal in the United States because terminally ill patients over the age of 18 that are mentally stable have the right to choose to end their pain and suffering.
Because of the countless qualifications and guidelines, not just anyone can receive physician assisted suicide. A patient must meet the requirements in order to qualify for physician assisted suicide. The patient must be “diagnosed with a terminal illness that will lead to death within six months” (Fass, and Fass 846). Being a legal resident of a state that has legalized the procedure and being eighteen years old are also requirements. Another qualification is being able to make and communicate health care decisions. Along with those requirements, there are certain guidelines that must be followed during the process of physician assisted suicide. First, the patient must make two oral requests for physician assisted suicide at least fifteen days apart. A written request that has to be signed in front of two witnesses must also be provided to the physician. The patient then has to be referred to a consulting physician, so that he can confirm the diagnosis and prognosis and approve that the patient is capable of making decisions related to health care. “The prescribing physician must notify the patient of alternatives to suicide, including comfort...

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