Physician-Assisted Suicide - an Utilitarian Perspective

1463 words 6 pages
Physician-assisted suicide is “the voluntary termination of one's own life by administration of a lethal substance with the direct or indirect assistance of a physician. Physician-assisted suicide is 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” (MedicineNet.com, 2004). Many times this ethical issue arises when a terminally-ill patient with and incurable illness, whom is given little time to live, usually less than six-months, has requested a physician’s assistance in terminating one’s life. This practice with the terminally ill is known as euthanasia. Physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia is a controversial topic …show more content…
According to Ethics in Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine state that those who argue in favor of physician-assisted death (PAD) present the following reasons for their opinions
1. Respect for autonomy: The individuals who argue in favor in physician-assisted death believe competent people should have right to choose the timing and manner of death. They believe death is a personal matter and should be respected.
2. Justice: Justice requires that we "treat like cases alike." Competent, terminally ill patients have the legal right to refuse treatment that will prolong their deaths. For patients who are suffering but who are not dependent on life support, such as respirators or dialysis, refusing treatment will not suffice to hasten death quickly. Thus, to treat these patients equitably, we should allow assisted death as it is their only option to hasten death.
3. Compassion: Suffering means more than pain; there are other physical, existential, social and psychological burdens such as the loss of independence, loss of sense of self, and functional capacities that some patients feel jeopardize their dignity. It is not always possible to relieve suffering. Thus PAD may be a compassionate response to unremitting suffering.
4. Individual liberty vs. state interest: Though society has strong interest in preserving life, that interest lessens when a person is

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