Physician Assisted Suicide Utilitarianism

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Physician assisted suicide is currently legal in five U.S. states with fifteen more states reviewing it within the next year making it an important topic to look at morally and ethically. Physician assisted suicide is the act of an individual killing themselves with the help of a physician, usually by taking a lethal dose of a drug. It is important to point out that the patient first has to request it and they complete the ultimate act. This differs from euthanasia where the physician is the one who ultimately causes the death. Physician assisted suicide is requested because the patient is enduring tremendous pain and suffering which can only be ended with their death (Vaughn 293). Throughout this paper I will argue that physician assisted…show more content…
Rachels looks at the utilitarian argument which states that if an action increases happiness or decreases unhappiness it is morally acceptable, therefore killing a suffering patients, who requests to die, decreases their unhappiness and can be morally acceptable However, Rachels doesn’t see this argument as sound because happiness and unhappiness are not the only things to consider morally. To argue this Rachels uses the example that limiting religion may increase happiness, but that doesn’t make is morally acceptable because it denies people the ability to make their own decisions. Rachel then goes to create his argument, which uses both a mercy and utilitarian approach. The mercy argument justifies euthanasia when it puts an end to a patient’s agony and suffering. Rachels uses an example of a twenty eight year old man named Jack who suffers from terminal cancer. Jack’s pain can only be alleviated for an hour or two at a time and between doses he howls in pain. Another patient notes that if Jack were a dog his suffering would be ended by putting him to sleep, therefore the mercy argument can be used to argue in favor of euthanasia or physician assisted suicide. Rachels uses the mercy argument and the utilitarian argument to create his argument which he believe is sounder. He states if an action is in everyone’s best interest and violates no ones rights then it…show more content…
I strongly agree with Aras look on the autonomy argument and that individuals should be able to determine the level of suffering for which they can endure and when the point comes to end ones life. Suffering is a complex thing that cannot be measured or determined by anyone but the individual himself or herself. Therefor I do not think that anyone is in a place to say that an individual should prolong their suffering when in the case of terminally ill patients will ultimately end in death. In terms of the utilitarian argument I agree that one needs to maximize happiness and minimize unhappiness, but find issues with it similar to Rachels that will be discussed later. Where I disagree with Aras is in his analysis of the slippery slope argument and potential for abuse. I feel with the necessary safe guards put into place the slippery slope argument and abuse will be negligible. I do not agree that the arguments made for physician-assisted suicide can be made in any other case but terminally ill patients. For terminally ill patients the end result is going to be death whether it is in a few days, weeks, or months. With other illnesses, while life may be depreciated, death is not looming in the near future. The unnecessary suffering caused to terminally ill patients, isn’t going to go

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