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Main Arguments for Physician-Assisted Suicide Research (Research Paper Sample)


specifically look at the issues that inform the decision to either allow or criminalize PAS, and how these practices lead to the greater good or a higher measure of contentment rather than unhappiness


Physician-Assisted Suicide

Physician-Assisted Suicide (PAS) is acontentious issue. This term describes the process involving the termination of lives of patients suffering from terminal illness. It is conducted by administering a lethal dosage to a patient of sound mind who requests his or her physician to end their life due to unbearable pain and suffering(Cholbi&Verelius, 2015). Philosophers like Aristotle and Plato strictly objected the ending of another’s life, even for merciful reasons, whilst others like Stoics supported such practice in specific circumstances (Kopelman& De Ville, 2001). The present-day society is strongly divided as to the acceptability of suicide and mostly, physician-assisted suicide. Different jurisdictions have allowed the concept of ‘Death-with-Dignity’ while others have criminal sanctions against this aspect depending on whether they are generally pro-life or pro-choice. While only a few jurisdictions like the state of Oregon and Netherlands have allowed PAS, observers have noticed a trend where other states and jurisdiction are moving towards permitting the practice, but under strict qualifications.
Key Words: Physician-Assisted suicide, PAS, Pro-Life, Pro-Choice

The need to end one’s life after a long period of unbearable pain and suffering could arguably be understood depending on where someone comes from. There are two main reasons that explain why physician-assisted suicide (PAS) is highly contentious. First, there is the issue of sanctity of all human lives (Pro-Life),and secondly, there is the concept of the right to control one’s destiny (Pro-Choice) (Kopelman& De Ville, 2001). Accordingly, the opposing parties are, on one side, those that support Physician-assisted suicide because they support individual autonomy and choice, and, on the other side, those that are against PAS because they believe in the sacredness of human life. This paper will specifically look at the issues that inform the decision to either allow or criminalize PAS, and how these practices lead to the greater good or a higher measure of contentment rather than unhappiness. Differently put, how does utilitarianism inform the decision to allow or disallow Physician-assisted suicide? And, can human life be viewed differently based on philosophic theories and circumstances?
Assisted Suicide, Physician-Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia
Before proceeding, it is important to differentiate these terms in order to have a greater understanding of what PAS really means. First, assisted suicide takes place when an individual, through committing an action or omitting to do something assists or helps another individual to end his or her life (Cholbi&Verelius, 2015). This is done purposely and willingly. As such, all parties involved unequivocally state their intentions and both of them eventually make a knowledgeable and informed choice to end a life. The person who provides assistance in this case does not directly take the life of the other person but only offers some help (Kopelman& De Ville, 2001).
On the other hand, physician-assisted suicide happens when a physician, in one way or another, offers some help to an individual so that they can end their life. In order for it to amount to suicide, it is imperative that the involved individual is the agent of his or her own death (Battin, Rhodes & Silvers, 2015). This is where the line is drawn between PAS and euthanasia. Euthanasia, which is also known as mercy killing, happens when an individual takes the life of another person mainly because they were compassionate after seeing the pain and suffering that the other person was going through.. This term comes from two Greek words; euand thanatos,which when merged, indicate ‘good death’ (Kopelman& De Ville, 2001).
Briefly, in Euthanasia, there is both active euthanasia and passive euthanasia. Active euthanasia happens when an individual, with intent, takes the life of another person due to compassionate reasons. On the other hand, passive euthanasia is letting someone else die (Battin, Rhodes & Silvers, 2015). A substantial amount of attention has been paid to the issue of the difference between both forms of euthanasia and whether letting someone die is more morally acceptable than actively killing someone. Both opponents and proponents of euthanasia have agreed that letting die or passive euthanasia is more justifiable than active euthanasia. They, however, clash when it comes to the sensibility of adopting a policy on active euthanasia(Kopelman& De Ville, 2001).
Having elaborated the difference between the three key terms, it is essential to keep in mind that the debate on whether Physician-assisted suicide should be permissible or not is interrelated with the question about the acceptability of both euthanasia and assisted suicide in the first place. Also,the debate is concerned with the issue where these three intertwined concepts need legal, moral, and clinical responses(Battin, Rhodes & Silvers, 2015). Thus, there are responses that are in support of physician-assisted suicide and those that are against it. Notably, at this point, whichever the response, it is informed by the need to come up with greater good for the greatest number of people. However,the question to be answered is which view will lead to the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people, and when this happiness surpasses the value of human life.
Main Arguments for Physician-Assisted Suicide
One reason that greatly informs the decision to allow physician-assisted suicide stems from the need to allow people to choose how they want to lead their lives. This includes how and when they want to end it. This is an authoritative and swaying argument. The appropriate answer to a never-ending question and disagreement on how to deal with suffering, pain and anguish is to allow people to make a choice on the kind of help they best need to end their suffering. Some commentators who are pro-choice have viewed and described this as a higher calling and duty than the need to prolong the life of a person who is suffering and anguishing from a terminal illness (Cholbi&Verelius, 2015). Individual autonomy and liberty has been a concept that for a long time entailed the fight for civil rights. Proponents of physician-assisted suicide argue that nothing changes in liberty and autonomy when it comes to the choice on how a person decides how to end his or her suffering and anguish (Cholbi&Verelius, 2015).
Secondly, as was earlier stated, arguments for or against physician-assisted suicide do not stand on their own. They are entangled with the other two aspects of euthanasia, both active and passive and assisted suicide. As such, the other argument that is presented by those that support physician-assisted suicide is...
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