Physician Assisted Suicide Essay

2520 words - 11 pages

Physician-Assisted Suicide

SOC 120
Professor Harrison
29 July 2013

Physician-Assisted Suicide
Imagine a frail elderly woman laying in the nursing home in pain. This woman is 80 years old and has been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer and her heart cannot withstand treatment via radiation or chemotherapy. She has less than six months to live. Day in and day out you pass her room and hear her crying out from the immense pain. The 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 ...view middle of the document...

So, if I were asked, is there a difference. I would respond with no. The only difference I see between physician-assisted suicide and regular suicide is that the physician is condoning the act. But, suicide is something that is usually done by younger adults from the result of depression or the result of a teenager being bullied. Where physician-assisted suicide usually occurs in the terminally ill patients, usually elderly. Does the fact they are terminally ill or elderly make a difference? Not to most, most see suicide as suicide. How someone perceives the ethical view of any situation is dependent upon the person’s culture, religion, how he or she was raised, etc.
Ethics is not the only thing to consider with physician-assisted suicide, many would argue the legal standpoint as well. Physician-assisted suicide is only legal in four states: Montana, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington. In the other 46 states where it is illegal, 39 states have laws prohibiting assisted suicide, three states suicide by common law, and the remaining four states do not have specific laws or are otherwise unclear on the legality of physician-assisted suicide (, 2013). Three of the four states where physician-assisted suicide is legal have minimum standards and protocols the physicians must follow. Each state minus Montana requires that the resident be at least 18 years of age, with six months or less to live. They also require three separate requests to do so, two oral requests at least 15 days apart and one written request (, 2013). Montana is the only state that no legal protocol is in place and the only requirement is you must be a resident of the state in order to request a physician to assist suicide.
The ethical theory that best describes physician-assisted suicide would be virtue ethics. Virtue ethics focuses more on what makes a person more virtuous instead of focusing on the consequences of the act (Mosser, 2010). People think of doctors as healers, someone who makes the pain go away and someone who makes you feel better. Doctors care for people who are sick and also the ones that are terminally ill. They make sure their patients receive proper care for their illnesses and they assess that the patients receive the proper medications for their illnesses. Doctors also try and keep their patients as free from pain and discomfort as possible. Most people take comfort in knowing that their loved ones are receiving the best care possible from their doctors. Not all individuals look down on doctors for respecting the wishes of the terminally ill, even if that desire is to end their lives so that they no longer have to deal with the pain and suffering.
People like to feel as if their loved ones are protected by doctors, they do not want to think of the doctors as murderers. Should a doctor be considered a murderer if they are just fulfilling a patients request? Sometimes doctors are unable to convince a determined...

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