Physician Assisted Death Argumentative Essay

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Physician-assisted death is the practice in which a physician provides a mentally competent patient with the means to take his/her own life, usually in the form of prescribing death-dealing medications. It first became legal in the United States in Oregon in 1998. It is now legal in four other states: Washington, California, Montana, and Vermont. In order for one to exercise their right to die this way, the law states that the patient must be at least 18 years old, be mentally competent, be diagnosed with a terminal illness that will lead to death within six months, and must wait at least fifteen days before filling the death-dealing prescriptions. This controversial practice has raised the question of whether or not it is ethical for a physician …show more content…

Their argument is that the medical practice of physician-assisted death is unethical because it violates the bioethical principle of nonmaleficence, which refers to the obligation of the physician to not cause needless harm. Physician-assisted death is not causing needless harm because the patient themselves is requesting the death-dealing medication and taking them, or not taking them, when, and if, they feel ready to die. It would be needless harm if the physician in question actively euthanatized the patient by administering the death-dealing medications without the patient’s consent. However, from a legal standpoint, physician-assisted death does not include active euthanasia, which is illegal in all fifty states; it simply requires the physician to provide the mentally competent patient with the information they asked for regarding the process and a prescription for the death dealing medication. The physician is not causing needless harm to a terminally ill patient who wishes to die mercifully on their own time instead of six months down the line in possible pain and suffering. The physician is rendering the aid the patient requests and respecting the patient’s autonomous decision to exercise their right to

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