Physician-Assisted Suicide Case Study

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Physician-Assisted Suicide (PAS) is a controversial ethical problem in medicine. PAS is defined as “the practice of providing a competent patient with a prescription for medication for the patient to use with the primary intention of ending his or her own life” (Meier, et al., 1194). The first significant push for the legalization of PAS arose as a part of the eugenics movement, then further publicized in the 1990’s with Dr. Kevorkian’s case, where he assisted over 40 people in committing suicide in Michigan (Angell, 54). Recently, the ruling of the Brittany Maynard case has brought the nation to discuss the ethical issues of PAS. Her case resulted in bills in several states on the topic. Oregon was the first state to legalize PAS in 1997…show more content…
With PAS, people argue that competent individuals can decide for him or herself the terms of his or her own death. In medicine, there is an obligation of the physician to respect their patient’s autonomous decisions. This stronger emphasis on self-determination is recent, but is important because adequate patient information and sufficient understanding of his or her own choice is needed in order to make this autonomous decision (Gather, 447). With PAS, an individual has a right to choose to live or die, and with this decision, the patient can die with dignity. The American Civil Liberties Union determined in Vacco v. Quill, states that U.S. states do not have the right to ban physician-assisted…show more content…
Currently, there are a few resources for terminally ill patients such as palliative care and hospice care; however, patient suffering at the end of life can be reduced with PAS. Those who are terminally ill and face many aggressive forms of treatment may consider PAS an alternative option to palliative care to end their suffering. They might consider PAS as an alternative option to hospice care, because they would rather choose the conditions of their death, rather than prolonging death in another clinical setting. The drugs used for PAS would be less costly than providing end of life care. With PAS, health care costs can be reduced (Kinchoeloe, xiv). Pain and suffering of a patient’s family can be reduced (McKhann, “A Time to Die). PAS takes away the guilt of a dying patient of being a burden to the family. People who are pushing for the legalization of physician-assisted suicide say that there are terminally ill individuals who feel that they emotionally, physically and financially drain members of the family because of their being sick. For some of these people, the best way to remove the guilt they have, it would be best for all if all these hardships will be put to an end through PAS. Physician-Assisted Suicide has thorough guidelines and regulations (Schafer, “Physician-assisted Suicide: It’s

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