This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

Ethical And Legal Issues Of Physician Assisted Suicide

1235 words - 5 pages

Although the physician does not directly end the patient’s life, physician-assisted suicide (PAS) occurs when the physician provides the means (i.e. information or drugs) to commit suicide. Patients who request PAS from their doctors usually suffer from terminal illnesses, such as AIDS, cancer, or neurological disorders, in which death is inevitable, and it is estimated that 12% of physicians receive at least one request for PAS per year (Beck, Wallace, Starks & Pearlman, 1996). While some people believe that the ability to end life in those cases is critical for preserving human dignity, PAS is still a controversial topic because others do not consider assisted suicide moral.
The main ...view middle of the document...

Ethical Considerations

Most of the controversy surrounding PAS exists because there are two conflicting viewpoints that depend on the ethics used to interpret the act of assisted suicide. On one hand, it is possible to prohibit PAS, and that approach to solving the issue would adhere to deontological ethics. Even though the concept of autonomy exists in that ethical framework, deontology does not consider freedom absolute because actions are considered moral when they adhere to universal moral rules (NYSTF, 1994).
On the other hand, relativism and utilitarianism would consider PAS a viable option for some people. Relativism considers that truth is subjective, so it is important to consider outcomes and define morality based on evaluating actions in specific contexts. Therefore, because suicide is the only way to prevent suffering and end life while maintaining dignity in terminal illness, relativist ethics would agree that PAS is a moral action in those circumstances. Utilitarianism also believes that moral actions are those that reduce suffering and maximize suffering, so PAS would be considered the best option for terminally ill people who will inevitably experience a decrease in quality of life and prolonged suffering.
However, it is also important to consider the mental state of terminally ill patients and their families when requesting PAS. It would certainly be unethical to simply accept their request for assisted suicide because current medical technology allows them to manage terminal illnesses to a certain extent. Therefore, a truly ethical approach for medical personnel would be to communicate with their patients and provide psychosocial support to improve their quality of life. PAS should be considered only when it is completely clear that patients are in advanced stages of terminal illness and the pain becomes unmanageable.
Avoiding PAS in end-of-life care would be unethical according to some people, but more importantly, it violates the code of ethics relevant to medical workers. Although illegal actions are prohibited by the code of ethics in healthcare, healthcare workers must respect the self-determination and right to dignity, which is not possible if they are not allowed to engage in PAS to help them preserve dignity and respect their choices. Finally, it is important to consider that the World Health Organization’s (WHO, 2014) definition of palliative care states that healthcare workers are not allowed to prolong the suffering in dying patients. Making PAS illegal is contradictory to the code of ethics and the requirements of healthcare workers in palliative care, and its morality needs to be reconsidered.

Legal Considerations

In addition to the ethical issues surrounding the topic of PAS, various legal issues have been created to prevent physicians from assisting their patients to commit suicide. Public awareness of PAS increased after...

Other Essays Like Ethical and Legal Issues of Physician-Assisted Suicide

Physician-Assisted Suicide Essay

632 words - 3 pages Kim Nason Mr. Stamper Government 12 September 2007 Physician-Assisted Suicide Many people are diagnosed with a terminal illness that put patients in difficult situations. A terminal illness is one that is causing the end of life. Sometimes these illnesses give patients a horrible amount of pain and anguish that could drive them to the decision of death being better than life. Physician-assisted suicide is a common choice for

Ethics in Physician Assisted Suicide Essay

1673 words - 7 pages away peacefully. Currently Montana, Washington and Oregon are the three states that have legalized physician assisted suicide. Baxter et al v. Montana is another example of a court case with a person with a terminal illness who wanted physician assisted suicide as an option. Robert Baxter, a marine veteran, was suffering with leukemia when he filed a case along with four Montana doctors seeking recognition that the right to

Ethical and Legal Issues

862 words - 4 pages Ethical and Legal Issues Paper Christel Rockwood NURS/391 March 11, 2014 Renee Martin-Thornton Ethical and Legal Issues Ethics is an integral part to nursing practice. The American Code of Ethics for Nurses (ANA) with interpretive statements acts as a guide for professional conduct

Legal and Ethical Issues

842 words - 4 pages Legal and Ethical Issues (GlaxoSmithKline in $3 billion fraud settlement) In cases like the GlaxoSmithKline fraud settlement there are legal and ethical issues affected. Ethically it was wrong for GlaxoSmithKline to put profit before the health of the public. Ethical issues do not have to be proven in court. Most individuals know and understand ethics as a basic human guideline for behavior. With thing legal issues it is a bit more difficult

I Support Physician-Assisted Suicide

1415 words - 6 pages .  If anything it strengthens the patient's respect; a person in the last stages of a terminal illness has endured some of the worst life has to offer.  It takes away many of his capabilities to perform what would normally be commonplace activities; in short it has overtaken his life and dignity.  The ability to perform legal assisted suicide would help to replace some of the dignity which the illness has extracted

Physician Assisted Suicide: a Contentious Topic Today

2614 words - 11 pages quick or a little slower to allow time with family. Amongst the legal and medical communities there are many definitions of assisted suicide, along with the contentious debate of suicide that is assisted by a physician rather a family member or friend. PAS has some benefits with it but it also has some disadvantages. The benefits of assisted suicide for the terminally ill individual are significant, even though the debates still raise questions

Physician-Assisted Suicide Must Be Legalized

4687 words - 19 pages -life care. Council of Ethical and Judicial Affairs, 5(8), 1-8. Retrieved from ProQuest database. Meyer, T. (2012, April 28). Palliative care vs. physician assisted suicide. Ignitum Today. Retrieved February 24, 2014, from Mosser, K. (2010). Philosophy a Concise Introduction. San Diego, Ca. Bridgepoint Education, Inc. Pereira, J. (2011, April). Legalizing

Should Assisted Suicide Be Legal?

1529 words - 7 pages end in sight. These patients or their families should have the right to make a life ending decision without the fear of legal ramifications. Physician assisted suicide should be legal. Patients, with the help of their physicians, should be able to decide if they want to end their own life. Only that person knows what kind of pain and suffering they are enduring. A court or judge cannot determine the level of pain and suffering a patient

Legal and Ethical Issues of a Medical Error Case

1063 words - 5 pages Legal and Ethical Issues of a Medical Error Case In the case study "Understanding the Causes and Costs of Medication Errors”, a Denver hospital acknowledged that a medication error had led to the death of a day-old infant, born in 1996 to a mother with a prior history of syphilis. Because the patient’s parents spoke only Spanish, communication was difficult. This factor, coupled with the fact that the hospitals’ physicians, nurses, and

Ethical and Legal Issues in Nursing

1851 words - 8 pages Ethical and Legal Issues in Nursing Team C NUR/391 Ethical and Legal Issues in Nursing Nurses face various ethical and legal issues in the medical setting. As professionals, nurses must be aware of these legal and ethical issues when they occur. Nurses have a legal and ethical obligation to respond to these issues. Being a professional nurse requires a nurse to assess the pros and cons of different situations, but also to

Legal and Ethical Issues in Consultation

1003 words - 5 pages Ethical and Legal Issues in Consultation Name Institutional Affiliation Ethical and Legal Issues in Consultation According to Dougherty (2009), consultants work with individual consultees or small groups of consultees in different settings including schools, business organizations, and government agencies among other client systems. In their practice, consultants find it necessary to collaborate with other helping

Related Papers

The Legal And Ethical Dilemma Of Physician Assisted Suicide

3512 words - 15 pages The Legal and Ethical Dilemma of Physician Assisted Suicide: An Analysis: People v Kevorkian Angelia Prince Shorter University The Legal and Ethical Dilemma of Physician Assisted Suicide: An Analysis: People v Kevorkian This research was aimed at providing an analysis of the ethical and legal dilemma surrounding physician assisted suicides. The subject of physician-assisted suicide has raised many thought provoking and

Physician Assisted Suicide Essay

2520 words - 11 pages pain medications are no longer working. She’s tired of fighting, tired of hurting, and tired of waiting to die. After consideration and discussions with her family she has decided to ask the doctor to help and end her life. The doctor feels remorse for the elderly lady and wants to help but cannot decide if it is the ethical thing to do because he knows that what he’s being asked to do is considered physician-assisted suicide. How is physician

Physician Assisted Suicide Essay

936 words - 4 pages Dr. Braddock and Dr. Tonelli use Aristotelian rhetoric in their article titled, “Physician Aid-in-Dying: Ethical Topic in Medicine.” The authors provide examples of logos by providing statistics about physician assisted suicide. In the article you will find pathos that will offer different emotions within the topic. These authors have many ethos or many years of credentials within the medical field. In this article, Dr. Braddock and Dr

Physician Assisted Suicide Essay

2561 words - 11 pages to kill animals. (International Task Force) In Florida news the Schiavo case caused an uproar and new questions of assisted death. Hawaii’s senate rejected assisted suicide in 2002. The Kentucky Supreme Court issued a stunning decision on August 26 2004, granting legal authority to the state of Kentucky to end the life of a totally innocent ward of the state. Maine voters rejected physician assisted suicide in 2000. Vermont proposed a bill to