Doctors and health care workers are led by strict professional code of ethics that guide their every action in their provision of service. However, they regularly face tough situations that need them to make equally tough decisions to safeguard interests of patient while safeguarding their professionalism. This paper seeks to discuss whether physician assisted suicide is good for doctors to practice in favor of patient`s interest by alleviating pain on terminal illnesses. On the debate, this essay supports the use of physician assisted suicide as a medical option for terminally ill patients. This should be the most appropriate option especially in the cases where terminally ill patients request for suicide assistance from the doctors.
Case for Physician Assisted Suicide
Physician assisted suicide is the only way to enable people end their lives without extreme pains and suffering. According to Meier, physician assisted suicide is a solution since patients seeking the option have clear knowledge of their impending death due to their terminal illnesses. Through physician assisted suicide, physicians enable affected patients to end their life with some personal relief away from the torture of pain for them and relatives.
Another case for physician assisted suicide is that it gives the patient an option for dying with dignity. According to the journal for medical ethics (2006), The Death with Dignity Act (DWDA) made it legal for competent and terminally ill adult patients to have physician assisted suicide. The act allows residents of Oregon State to have a physician assisted suicide through lethal dosage when their suffering becomes unbearable. According to this act, patients who are eligible should make two oral and a written requests over a period of two weeks. The prescribing and a consulting physician must also confirm the diagnosis as well as the prognosis. This means that the practice is helpful and it leaves some dignity for the patient without having to face extreme levels of dehumanization by the suffering.
Physician assisted suicide should be allowed to avoid patients using other unconventional suicide methods that cause even more pain. The option for physician assisted suicide should be made legal and allowed because patients will still desire to die even if the assistance is not granted. Many patients feel they should die since they will end up with death even if the doctor denies the grant for physician assisted suicide. It has been recorded of instances where patients find other options of killing themselves which are not the best options for their dignity. For instance, many patients drown themselves, suffocate themselves and even take inappropriate poisonous substances to search for quick death. To avoid all these inhuman options, physician assisted suicide could be the best option for such patients to end their life honorably.
Case against Physician Assisted Suicide
Many opponents view physician assisted suicide as a shift of the doctor`s role from being a healer to being a killer. Gholipour argues that, the option of allowing the doctor to terminate the life of a patient will translate his role into a non conventional killer. This means that the doctor is scrapped of his main role of assisting in healing to the assistance in ending the life he was trained to safeguard. According to Meier, the doctor should not be allowed to do anything that contradicts his original commitment of healing and protecting life despite the pressure to do so.
It is the view of many religious groups and cultural affiliates that physician assisted suicide should not be practiced or even assisted. This is because the decision to kill or not, decision to die or live is not under the authority or control of man but with God. According to the religious believes, human beings were created by God and only God has the authority to decide on their death. Therefore physician assisted suicide is seen as taking the role of God and placing it on doctors. This is what shapes the thinking of the people that physician assisted suicide is ungodly, immoral, unreligious and not to be practiced by doctors or any man. This makes the debate become an antagonism between the medical view of life and the religious view of issues in regard to physician assisted suicide.
Opponents of physician assisted suicide further argue that the practice equal to murder if not a manslaughter issue. This is because it involves the process of terminating life which denies the living person chance to live whether willing or unwilling. A further argument is that according to the law, any death caused by another person is murder. They argue that any physician assisted suicide ends with equal results to any other murder or manslaughter and should not be justified in law or medical practice. This means that as long as people`s opinion is in the alignment of religious believes opposing the solution of physician assisted suicide will be their priority.
It is argued in law that death is a protected liberty and no citizen is allowed to take life, even his own life8. This stand makes physician assisted suicide an option that is not in any subject of discussion on legalizing the alternative. It is placed as an event in life similar to marriage, contraception, procreation and child bearing which are life events that are guided by some standards. Opponents of physician assisted suicide especially socialists describe the alternative as an option driven by motives of the suffering person to escape the natural cause of events such as the other life events.
Argument against the Opposition
It is impractical for the above arguments to hold a reality that people should stare at a person suffering and not do something to protect his human dignity. In the first point of opposition to physician assisted suicide, opponents of the option fail to understand that it does not make the doctor a killer. The use of physician assisted suicide as an option to alleviate pain for the terminally ill patients in fact makes the doctor a solution giver and not necessarily a killer. It should be noted that the resultant death event is already guaranteed to happen to the suffering patient whether the doctor intervenes or not. This makes physician assisted suicide an option and not an intervention treatment.
Similarly, it is also impractical to argue that physician assisted suicide is a practice in deviation from Godly or religious or cultural believes. This is because death is an event that will have to occur to the terminally ill patient and is even made certain on the timing of his or her death 9. Therefore, the event is a natural cause that the doctor has nothing to do with but help the patient to face the inevitable in a more humane and dignified way. In line with the argument, death by physician assisted suicide is a choice of the terminally ill patient just like people choose to marry, have children or have contraception to avoid child bearing.
It is my opinion that physician assisted suicide is a good option and should be practiced to solve the problems faced by terminally ill people. It is my view that physician assisted suicide is not a medical practice of treatment but a solution to terminally ill patients when all other known alternatives have failed. It should not be demonized as a practice against God or an ill motivated medical alternative. Instead, it should be viewed as a way of safeguarding human dignity by giving an option to the suffering patients. In line with human dignity, it should be noted that death is an inevitable incident that no one can escape a time not known. However, terminally ill patients usually know their time of death and instead of waiting in pain they should be allowed to make decision on dying with dignity.
Physician assisted suicide is a worthy alternative because it alleviates pain and suffering from people with certainty of death due to terminal illnesses. In addition, physician assisted suicide is the best option for the patients to avoid them using non-medical options that sometimes end up causing more pain. On the other hand, physician assisted suicide is seen as a deviation of human decision away from God`s will to protect human life. Additionally, medical practitioners opposing physician assisted suicide view it as an alteration of doctor`s role from a healer and a solution giver to a killer. However, these two arguments are untrue since physician assisted suicide is not a medical treatment but a human dignity option. In conclusion, physician assisted suicide is an alternative that all conscious parties should consider when the terminally ill patients request the option.
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Gholipour, B. (2013). Physician-Assisted Suicide: Poll Shows Divide Among Experts. Retrieved
November 26, 2013
Meier, D. E. et al. (1998). A National Survey of Physician-Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia in
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