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The Need For The Legalization Of Physician Assisted Suicide

2761 words - 12 pages

Throughout the course of history, advances in medical technology have prolonged the length of life and delayed death; however, terminal illnesses still exist and modern medicine is often unable to prevent death. Many people turn to a procedure known as Physician-Assisted suicide, a process by which a doctor aids in ending a terminally ill patient’s life. This procedure is painless and effective, allowing patients to control their death and alleviate unnecessary suffering. In spite of these benefits, Physician-Assisted suicide is illegal in many places both nationally and internationally. Despite the fact that Physician-Assisted suicide is opposed by many Americans and much of the world on ethical and moral grounds such as those based on religion and the morality of taking another life, it should still be legalized because it alleviates suffering of patients, allows patients to choose a dignified death, and allows patients to control their own fate instead of their disease controlling them.
The idea of Physician-Assisted suicide is one that carries many misconceptions and comes with much opposition. Of these opponents, many are doctors and nurses. This opposition is deeply rooted in the belief that the practice of medicine is one that has the sole purpose to increase the quality of life for people and to prolong life. These beliefs are rooted in the Hippocratic Oath, an Oath that all doctors promise to uphold. The Hippocratic Oath proclaims that “I will give no deadly medicine to anyone if asked, nor suggest any such counsel” ("The End of Life: Ethical Considerations"). This Oath is a major reason for many nurses and doctors opposing the practice; however, it is not the only source for opposition. In addition to the Hippocratic Oath, personal morals and ethical considerations are another factor for nurses and doctors. Some are against the idea of helping someone take their own life while others oppose suicide of any type. However, according the American Medical Association, physicians are supposed to allow competent patients to make the choice between life and death if a situation of the sort should arise. These decisions are often based on the patient’s own perception of life, death, and suicide. Additionally, the American Medical Association says that the choice of life and death must solely rest in the hands of the patient, as exemplified by this quote from opinion 2.20 concerning ethics of life-saving treatment: “The principle of patient autonomy requires that physicians respect the decision to forego life-sustaining treatment of a patient who possesses decision-making capacity.” (“Opinion 2.20 - Withholding or Withdrawing Life-Sustaining Medical Treatment"). This stance supports Physician-Assisted suicide because it emphasizes the right that a patient has to choose his or her fate. Unfortunately, these ethical considerations do not hold much influence with American lawmakers or voters as the practice remains explicitly illegal in many...

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