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ShouldPhysician-Assisted Suicide be legalized?
Many people are comfortable when they are in good health and theyengage in behavior that enables them to maintain their condition.However, when tragedy strikes and one is diagnosed with having achronic disease, everything changes. Families of such individualsbecome stressed while others may consider the situation a burden. Thedecision to end life tends to arise in such circumstances. Thephysician may be consulted to provide medical advice on the variousways to end life (physician-assisted suicide) or through euthanasia(practically bringing death to a desperate and suffering person in aquick and painless way) (Radbruch, p.104). The rise in suchsituations has led many people to question whether it is appropriatefor doctors to practice physician-assisted suicide (PAS). Since thegovernment under the department of health governs the affairs andpractices of the medical personnel, one of the ways of ensuring thehealthcare system provides the best services, is by defining a lawthat either legalizes or forbids the practice. Hence, the paper shallbe discussing why it is unnecessary for physician-assisted suicide tobe made legal.
The society consists of vulnerable people such as the physicallychallenged and the mentally ill, but some families claim that theyare a burden. The claims are common among people who are living inpoverty or low-income earners who cannot afford to provide thedependent individuals with access to quality care and support. It isbelieved that such persons are likely to be pushed to assisted deathas a cost-containment strategy (Radbruch, et al., p.111). Someof the states in America that have legalized the PAS practice includeCalifornia, Montana, and Oregon. However, reports on the impact ofthe legalization in states such as Oregon show that more people areconsidering death under the PAS not to reduce the pain they sufferfrom, but because of their state of disability (Penney & Black,p.887). An analysis conducted in Netherlands among doctors showedthat the explanation provided by their patients for seeking death isbecause they lack dignity within the community. Although thosesupporting the legalization of PAS may argue that the assistanceprovides them with the freedom of autonomy, it is evident that bymaking it legal, results in more innocent lives. Besides, thelegislation is not being applied for the primary purpose why it wasformulated, but as other reasons for dying. Hence, it would beinappropriate to pass the law on PAS based on the adverse effectswitnessed among states that have already made the practice legal.
Ethics is considered a significant element in the professional world.It is important as it provides guidelines on how employees arerequired to act in their workplace to ensure delivery of high-qualityservices to their clients. The medical field also has its ethics thatgovern their professional integrity. The ethical principles andstandards governing the health professional’s states that healthworkers have a duty to reduce pain and suffering of their patients byproviding the right treatment and care. Doctors are required topreserve life and to do no harm to those seeking their services. TheMedical personnel have been opposing the right to take life for along time because of the oaths that they take when they startproviding their services to the people. It is argued that bylegalizing PAS, the health workers shall be forced to act contrary tothe ethical requirements of their profession. Research indicates thatorganizations such as American Medical Association have substantiallyopposed PAS because of the impact it has on the profession (Radbruch,et al., p.105). The association believes that by allowingdoctors to assist patients in committing suicide, the public imageand the integrity of the profession would be ruined. Hence, thegovernment is recommended not to legalize PAS as it would underminethe ethical standards of the medical profession and destroy itsprofessional integrity as well.
In today’s world, technology has been advancing and increasinglyused in various platforms. The technological innovation has alsoaffected the health care field as health researchers are obtaining abreakthrough in some of the medical mysteries. The use of modernequipment has also contributed to increased treatment and ability tosave lives. Despite the positive progress, errors are also made thatresult in the cost of lives. Similarly, when doctors are examiningtheir patients, they are prone to making mistakes or experienceuncertainty in their diagnosis and prognosis. Therefore, if PAS ismade legal and the physician results in applying for the assistancein the death of the patient, there shall be unnecessary loss of life.Schindler during a Life Site News interview said that it is essentialfor the family to a terminally ill patient never to be obligated towhat doctors say. Instead, they need to get a second opinion andcontinue providing care to their loved one (Chretien, n.p). Thestatement suggests that obtaining a different professional view mightassist in identifying any fallibility within the medical practice.The state has a duty to ensure that the lives of its citizens areprotected by denying the implementation of the law. It needs toprovide the medical personnel with a chance to rectify the inevitablemistakes by applying the proper treatment of pain and quality care tothe victims.
Religious practices have always advocated for the right of life.Secular traditions have also supported the sanctity of life sincethey argue that committing suicide is an act of immorality in thesociety. The individuals proposing the legalization of PAS in morestates claim that most patients are requesting for the service withthe intent of putting an end to their suffering. A study conducted inhealthcare facilities showed that about 57% of the physicians receivethe request for PAS in various forms (Jones & Paton, p.601). Thedemand for the service may be higher, but it is believed thatproviding the right to suicide might prevent administration oftreatment. Besides, the patients are likely to make distortedjudgments regarding their deaths that could be influenced by thedrugs. Legalizing PAS is associated with granting a capitalpunishment to a mentally ill person who cannot make informeddecisions. Hence, PAS should not be legal as the patients aresubjected to palliative care until they experience natural death.
In conclusion, the discussion provides reasons as to why it isunnecessary to make PAS legal. Firstly, allowing patients to commitsuicide makes the socially marginalized groups in the society such asthe physically challenged more vulnerable to end their lives evenwhen they are not experiencing pain. Secondly, the legislation shallbe requiring doctors to act contrary to their ethical standards andprincipals that require them to do no harm and protect life. Thirdly,PAS legalization may result in unnecessary deaths in case physiciansmade inevitable mistakes in their diagnosis. Lastly, advocating forPAS shall result in immoral actions that do not uphold the sanctityof life. Therefore, it would be inappropriate to make PhysicianAssisted Suicide legal based on the reduced healthcare among statesthat have already implemented the law.
Chretien, Clare, “Terri Schiavo’s brother: know your rights andknow what you’re up against” Life Site News. Online. July2016. Retrieved fromhttps://www.lifesitenews.com/news/schiavos-brother-reject-assisted-suicide-fight-for-patients-rightsAccessed on 20/7/2016
Jones, David Albert, and David Paton. "How Does Legalization OfPhysician-Assisted Suicide Affect Rates Of Suicide?" SouthernMedical Journal 108.10 (2015): 599-604.
Lewis, Penney, and Isra Black. "Adherence to the RequestCriterion in Jurisdictions Where Assisted Dying is Lawful? A Reviewof the Criteria and Evidence in The Netherlands, Belgium, Oregon, andSwitzerland." Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics 41.4(2013): 885-898
Radbruch, Lukas, et al. "Euthanasia and Physician-AssistedSuicide: A White Paper from The European Association For PalliativeCare." Palliative Medicine 30.2 (2016): 104-116.