Within the field of medicine, there are new innovations everyday that seemingly bring people, science and medicine one step closer to a better quantity and quality of life for their patients. Whether a person has breast cancer or sickle cell anemia, there are a variety of problems within the medical field that have no cures or temporary solutions, and sometimes that are not able to increase the chance of a better quality of life. Although, sometimes a person comes to the realization that their disease may not get better, that there is no known cure yet, or that they would prefer to terminate their undesired pain permanently; that is where they ask a physician to assist them in a suicide. Physician-Assisted suicide has been around for centuries through names and terms that people have no realized, and today it is now called PAS and although it is not as legal in many states it is allowed in 8 jurisdictions.
There are certain things that should be known about PAS, because as much as it was something that was invented in order to help people there aren’t that many people who support it. The only reason that PAS is allowed is under certain circumstances, when there is a medical condition that will disrupt a person’s quality of life, if they ask a certain number of times and in the span of a number of days, and if a medically certified physician can prescribe it. “In the District of Columbia, to obtain the medication, ‘a patient shall make 2 oral requests, separated by 15 days apart, to an attending physician. Submit a written request, signed and dated by the patient, to the attending physician before the patient makes their 2nd oral request and at least 48 hours before a covered medication may be prescribed and dispensed.” (Physician-Assisted Suicide Fast Facts, CNN). Taking into consideration that this is only one state as well, and that states vary their laws in order to fit and suit certain cases in which they see fit for PAS. In June 1997 the US Supreme Court had ruled that state laws who banned Physician-Assisted Suicide were not violating the Constitution or the 14th Amendment; “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws”. Originally known as the Washington vs. Glucksberg, it was remarkable one of the most important medical cases taken into Supreme Court. Dr. Jack Kevorkian (aka Dr. Death) was a Physician-Assisted Suicide advocate and doctor was tried and arrested after he recorded himself assisting a terminally ill patient with his suicide and was put in prison for 8 years. It was very controversial because doctors had to decide whether they would rather be known as healers or someone who supports the right to die with assisting. Also, there was argument on whether Dr. Death had actually assisted him or did he euthanasia.
Physician-Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia are alike but different in ways that should be pointed out. PAS is only considered in rare medical conditions and quality of life cases, where a certified physician is able to prescribe a medication to the patient in which they are able to pass away peacefully. Euthanasia shares those same qualities although this is where a patient and family come to a consensus and both agree and the medically certified physician injects a lethal dose into the patient. There are many arguments that goes against Physician-Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia because they believe that it is ethically wrong for individuals to help any patient who is in a state of terminally illness to be helped in a suicide. There are three that stand out the most in these cases such as 1. The Doctors role, “Health care professionals may be unwilling to compromise their professional roles, especially in the light of the Hippocratic Oath”, 2. Patient Competence, “ Euthanasia is only voluntary if the patient is mentally competent, with a lucid understanding of available options and consequences and the ability to express that understanding and their wish to terminate their own life. Determining or defining competence is not straightforward.”, and lastly 3. Guilt, “Patients may feel they are a burden on resources and are psychologically pressured into consenting. They may feel that the financial, emotional, and mental burden on their family is too great. Even if the costs of treatment are provided by the state, there is a risk that hospital personnel may have an economic incentive to encourage euthanasia consent.”. Considering all of these things can certainly enlighten peoples in their perspective as to why it is illegal in most states as well. It can most certainly be an argument about ethics and the right thing to do.
The arguments that are for Physician-Assisted Suicide are things that should also be considered, physicians are people who have been prepped and ready for years and have gone through years of school in order to be prepared to be healers on the country and all scenarios. To consider that there are numerous amounts of physicians from both sides of the arguments, the one that is for should be taken whole heartedly as well. As well as before, here are 3 points that are brought up, 1. Freedom of Choice, “Advocates argue that the patient should be able to make their own choice.”, 2. Quality of Life, “Only the patient really knows how they feel, and how the physical and emotional pain of illness and prolonged death impacts their quality of life.”, and lastly 3. Witnesses, “Many who witness the slow death of others believe that assisted death should be allowed.”. It becomes rather an argument of what should be right and who should decide it.
Looking at all the sides of this enormous controversial argument can be able to give you a certain look onto life and how things work in the medical field. As someone who is interested in the medical field, it is important to note the important things in medicine as well as the science behind it. The science behind a lethal dose, how the medication works, and the sides of both arguments are able to work into the science as well. As science begins to expand, it is important to consider everything.