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Not Legal Nor Ethical: Physician Assisted Suicide/Euthanasia

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Euthanasia is defined by the “painless” killing of a patient suffering from an incurable and painful terminal illness or irreversible coma. Should Physician Assisted Suicide/Euthanasia be legal when there are other viable options in the medical field that would provide ethical solutions to end of life care? Imagine Mark a 70-year-old man with severe heart disease. He was in pain and depressed and because of that was contemplating euthanization. His family persuaded him to think of an alternative solution. He was put into a hospice where some of his pain was lifted (physical and emotional pain). He would live 2 more years than expected. In those two years, he would see his granddaughter marry and his grandson graduate from college. Feeling his life was accomplished he died with a smile on his face. Because of this Physician-Assisted Suicide should not be legal in all states. Although somebody who supports physician-assisted suicide would say death helps terminally ill patients after their battle with terminal illnesses, the better alternative is hospice where you can live out your life in comfort and dignity surrounded by people you love. It is also completely unethical for any physician or person with a profession in the medical field to aide a client, resident, or patient in the taking of their own life as stated in the Hippocratic Oath every nurse, physician, etc must take. “ I solemnly pledge myself before God and the presence of this assembly, to pass my life in purity and to practice my profession faithfully. I will abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous, and will not take or administer any harmful drug. I will do all in my power to maintain and elevate the standard of my profession and will hold in confidence all personal matters committed to my keeping and all family affairs coming to my knowledge in the practice of my calling. With loyalty, I will endeavor to aid the physician in his work, and devote myself to the welfare of those committed to my care.” ( Modified version of Oath ). Other contentions that support that Euthanasia should be illegal and is unethical are: Oregon’s Death and Dignity Act, Physician Integrity and Patient Trust, and Accepting a “ Right to Suicide” would Create a Legal Presumption of Sanity, Preventing Appropriate Mental Health Treatment. Euthanasia should be illegal and is unethical because it violates the terms of the Hippocratic Oath, and does not provide a patient with maximum efforts to relieve pain and address all aspects of wellbeing.

One way Euthanasia is exhibited as illegal and unethical is Oregon’s Death and Dignity act. Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act allows terminally ill adult Oregonians to obtain and use prescriptions from their physicians for self-administered, lethal doses of medications. This law was enacted based on intolerable pain — no one should be forced to endure the pain that is uncontrollable and unendurable. The ironic thing is that pain is not the top reason people choose physician-assisted suicide in Oregon. Oregon’s “Death with Dignity Act Annual Report” for 2014 shows that the top reason is “losing autonomy”. Inadequate pain control or concern about it was the sixth reason for seven, above only financial concerns. “Less able to engage in activities making life enjoyable” and “Loss of dignity” being above it. These people weren’t necessarily in uncontrollable pain themselves, just concerned about it like us all. Even if the line drawn is unbearable pain, how can that be restricted to only physical pain? Who can judge that mental anguish or economic distress isn’t unbearable pain? There is certainly a grey area in pain and how the medication should be used to pacify it. The role of the physician is to have an understanding of their patients and be able to aid them with maximum efforts to relieve pain and address all aspects of that person’s wellbeing. This guarantees physician integrity and patient trust.

Another way Euthanasia is displayed as unethical and illegal is Physician integrity and patient trust. Asking a physician to participate in PAS undermines the principled ethics and integrity of the physician whose noble profession is defined as one of compassionate service of the patient who is vulnerable, wounded, sick, alone, alienated, afraid; and undermines the integrity or wholesomeness of the patient, who him- or herself is in desperate need of trying to achieve. To ask and expect a physician to participate in the destructive act of suicide violates both personal and professional integrity of the physician, and leaves both the patient and the physician at risk for moral confusion about what is good, true, and beautiful about the human person. Medicine and the medical profession traditionally aimed at curing and healing. Assisting in suicide is neither cure nor healing. It pits the medical profession against itself: curing and caring versus killing. Not to mention (as stated before) Euthanasia is a complete violation of the Hippocratic Oath “…devote myself to the welfare of those committed to my care…”. Not only does accepting a “right to suicide” promote contradictory actions of the physician it also creates a legal presumption of sanity, preventing appropriate mental health treatment.

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Lastly, Euthanasia is shown as unethical and illegal is that accepting a “right to suicide” would create a legal presumption of sanity, preventing appropriate mental health treatment. Few people, if any, simply sit down and make a cool, rational decision to commit suicide. In fact, studies have indicated that 93-94%, of those committing suicide, suffer from some identifiable mental disorder. If suicide and physician-assisted suicide become legal rights, the presumption that people attempting suicide are deranged and in need of psychological help, borne out by many studies and years of experience, would be reversed.

Those seeking suicide would be legally entitled to be left alone to do something irremediable, based on a distorted assessment of their circumstances, without genuine help. An attempt at suicide, some psychologists say, is often a challenge to see if anyone out there really cares. Indeed, seeking physician assistance in a suicide, rather than just acting to kill oneself, may well be a manifestation, however subconscious, of precisely that challenge. If society creates a ‘right to suicide’ and legalizes ‘physician-assisted suicide,’ the message perceived by a suicide attempter is not likely to be, ‘We respect your wishes,’ but rather, ‘we don’t care if you live or die.’ About 77% of terminally ill people have their grief evolve into depression. We should want to prevent them from making a horrible decision and instead get treatment for their mental illness.

In conclusion, Euthanasia should be illegal and is unethical because it violates the terms of the Hippocratic Oath, and does not provide a patient with maximum efforts to relieve pain and address all aspects of wellbeing. There are other – better ways for people to deal with pain; suicide is should never be an option.

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Not Legal Nor Ethical: Physician Assisted Suicide/Euthanasia. (2022, Jun 29). Edubirdie. Retrieved August 12, 2022, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/not-legal-nor-ethical-physician-assisted-suicide-euthanasia/
“Not Legal Nor Ethical: Physician Assisted Suicide/Euthanasia.” Edubirdie, 29 Jun. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/not-legal-nor-ethical-physician-assisted-suicide-euthanasia/
Not Legal Nor Ethical: Physician Assisted Suicide/Euthanasia. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/not-legal-nor-ethical-physician-assisted-suicide-euthanasia/> [Accessed 12 Aug. 2022].
Not Legal Nor Ethical: Physician Assisted Suicide/Euthanasia [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Jun 29 [cited 2022 Aug 12]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/not-legal-nor-ethical-physician-assisted-suicide-euthanasia/
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