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Physician Assisted Suicide Essay

1219 words - 5 pages

Physician-Assisted Suicide

Physician-assisted suicide presents one of the greatest contemporary challenges to the medical profession's ethical responsibilities. Proposed as a means toward more humane care of the dying, assisted suicide threatens the very core of the medical profession's ethical integrity. Physician-assisted suicide occurs when a physician provides a patient with the medical means and/ or the medical knowledge to commit suicide ("Module 5: Physician-assisted,"). For example, the physician could provide sleeping pills and information about the lethal dose, while aware that the patient is contemplating ...view middle of the document...

Studies show that depression and hopelessness, rather than pain, are the primary factors motivating patients’ that wish to die. Many terminally ill patients fear that as their condition progresses they will lose physical function, mental function, and independence. They will lose their sense of autonomy and their ability to enjoy life. They fear being a burden to family, relatives, and friends. They do not wish for those closest to them to witness their physical and mental deterioration, and they do not wish to inconvenience them. They want the last memories of them to be fond memories. It is this sequence of thoughts that causes terminally ill patients to become depressed and experience a sense of hopelessness. It is these feelings that cause terminally ill patients to want a quick death. In fact, there is no significant association between the desire for a hastened death and the presence of pain or pain intensity.
Research shows that terminally ill patients suffering from depression are four times more likely to desire death than terminally ill patients not suffering from depression. Approximately twenty-five percent of terminally ill patients suffering from either depression or hopelessness have a high desire for a quick death (Marker, 2011). Sixty-seven percent of the terminally ill patients suffering from both depression and hopelessness have a high desire for a quick death (Marker, 2011). Because a patient’s desire to commit suicide is generally based on depression and hopelessness, the desire is often temporary. About fifty to sixty-seven percent of terminally ill patients interested in euthanasia or assisted suicide change their mind (Marker, 2011). This is especially true when a patient’s depression and sense of hopelessness is treated.
Another argument for physician-assisted suicide is that every competent person should have decision-making authority over his or her life ("Pro-euthanasia arguments," 2011). Every person should have the autonomy to decide the timing and manner of his death. Experiencing quality of life, avoiding severe pain and suffering, maintaining dignity, having a sense of control, and having others remember us as we wish to be remembered should be a fundamental liberty interest. Proponents of assisted suicide argue that this right to autonomy, especially at the end of life, is superior to any claim that life must be preserved ("Pro-euthanasia arguments," 2011). Moreover, the sacredness of life is dramatically diminished when an individual’s condition is terminal and death is imminent. One has made the argument that people should be permitted to die with dignity. A person’s last months of life should not be consumed suffering from severe physical pain; dependent upon others for nutrition, hydration, and bodily hygiene; with physical and mental deterioration; and experiencing declining vision, hearing, and mobility. Family members, relatives, and friends should not have to witness the...

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