My Ethical Views on Physician Assisted Suicide
Physician assisted suicide is immoral in the case of people who are alive and desire to terminate their life. However, there are extreme cases when hastening the dying process is justified in the circumstances of individuals who are in intense physical impairment.
Physician-assisted suicide is defined as the practice where a physician provides a patient with a lethal dose of medication, upon the patient’s request, which the patient desires to use to end his or her life. The Harvard Medical School conferred that we are “dead” when there is permanent loss of consciousness in the higher brain, even though one may not be flat lined.The idea for physician assisted suicide is for a medical doctor help someone die who is still alive but desires to terminate their own life due to an impairment or illness which causes suffering upon the individual. The question we must consider is where do we cross the line between suicide and murder.
Although suicide or attempted suicide is legal in every state, assisting in a suicide is considered illegal in every state except Oregon. Additionally, the Code of Medical Ethics section 2.211 declares that physician assisted suicide is “fundamentally incompatible with the physician’s role as healer, would be difficult or impossible to control, and would pose serious societal risks.”There are too many risks associated with physician assisted suicide that managing such a factor would be impossible to control. Even the best medical professionals are human beings with the potential for error. An undiagnosed or untreated mental illness can add to a patients desire to die, which in the case of physician assisted suicide, would be a type of murder since the patient is not in a state of mind to make such a decision. “Improperly managed physical symptoms” can add to physician error and end a life too early when an individuals suffering can be eased in other manners that could prolong life. Death is one of the most feared experiences a person will ever face. The suffering that is associated with death may outweigh the actual suffering the patient feels, and doctors may overlook this due to the faade the patient may play in order to exercise their “right to die”.
Another aspect of physician assisted suicide is this procedure devalues the lives of those who are disabled. A family may feel that it would ease their financial burden if their loved one committed suicide and desired to aid them in the process. However, if those are not the true wishes of the individual, how can we put a price on a person’s life, the only chance we will ever have to partake in this experience? For a medical doctor, there is a sense of obligation to the individual to ease their suffering. The conflicting problem is that the assisted suicides cannot be effectively and properly regulated; the lines are too fuzzy as to where we can draw the limitations.
A rights ethicist would argue the moral questions that it is the duty of physician’s to “do no harm…and those rules are justified by reference to a general conception of personal and social welfare.”The rights that are weighed desire to balance the risks to be taken against the possible good that could be attained through other physical therapy. Anesthesia is used to dull the pain during a surgery, in attempt to ease the pain of the patient. Yet, in most cases anesthesia does not deliver death as the final result. There is an enormous difference between giving a patient anesthetics and assisting them commit suicide. The Oath that doctors must take reaffirms “I will not never give a poison to anyone to cause death, not even if asked.” I believe that this affirmation suggests that physician assisted suicide is committing a murder. Keeping in mind the best interest of the patient may subdue the doctor to assisting a patient who is not “ready to die”. The type of respect and trust that medical practitioners hold over their patients contains too much room for abuses and mistakes on their behalf to go ahead with an assisted suicide. The “Respect for Human Life” can also be inferred